The Bottom Line: Insights from unicorns

The Bottom Line: Insights from unicorns

Welcome to another Bottom Line!

You're going to love the content in here this week. I've got a podcast from Financial Management Magazine, a report about CFOs at high-valued companies, and a ton more.

Let's get into it.

– Mike

Love the Bottom Line? I'll be forever grateful if you pass it on! Use this link. Or, share it on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Podcast for CFOs

The New CFO Mandate [Podcast]

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I've really been loving podcasts lately. Today, I've got another really good podcast for you from FM Magazine.

This episode features Ankur Agrawal, a partner at McKinsey & Co., discussing a new report of the evolution of finance from McKinsey.

Tons to learn here, including the number 1 skill that Ankur thinks finance pros need. My notes are below...

– (01:22) The goal of McKinsey's report was to evaluate how the role of the CFO is evolving.

– (02:02) Three things surprised Ankur about the survey: 1) The pace of change within the CFO role continues to increase. 2) CFOs are leading financial transformation. 3) Only 25% of CFOs have adopted advanced technologies.

– (04:42) Strategy is a bigger part of a CFO's job than ever before.

– (07:11) There's a perception gap between how CFOs see their role and how the rest of the C-suite sees the CFO's role.

– (08:10) Part of this gap is a result of education. It's important to help your company understand what your department does...beyond just counting numbers.

– (11:09) The number 1 skill finance leaders should focus on developing: people skills.

– (12:10) Also, spend some time becoming familiar with new finance technologies.

That's half of it. It's up to you for the other half...


CFOs of unicorn companies

What Does It Take to Be CFO of a Unicorn Company?

Teampay did something pretty cool. They researched CFOs at 20 of the highest-valued private companies in the world to find what those execs had in common.

A few of the companies' CFOs they looked into:

  • Lyft
  • WeWork
  • SpaceX
  • Slack
  • Pinterest

They pulled their data mostly from public records like LinkedIn, Crunchbase, and Bloomberg. But they also researched interviews and articles on the CFOs and companies in question.

So, what'd they find out?

  • When it comes to education, every CFO had an undergraduate degree. 45% of those execs also have their MBA.
  • 65% of CFOs attended an Ivy League school for at least one degree. If you haven't gone to an Ivy League school, don't let this stat get you down. The CFO of DreamWorks doesn't have an Ivy League education. He was hired for the diversity of his experience.
  • 19/20 CFOs on the list attended school in the US at some point. But, their nationalities varied quite a bit.
  • Many of the CFOs had experience in banking, venture capitalism, working at enterprise companies, or working at other tech startups. Basically, there's not one type of experience that you need to be a CFO.
  • Disappointing stat: 85% of the CFOs were men.

I tried to sum up most of the report here, but if you want to read it for yourself, you can download it from Teampay's website.


The Hit List

A few other things I've been reading this week...

1) 'From 3 Days to 10 Minutes' — How Drift eliminated travel friction with

2) From the WSJ, finance teams are banking on technology making up for budget gaps.

3) Universities are facing tough financial challenges lately. explains how one university is dealing with it.

4) HBR has the scoop on how timeboxing can improve your productivity.

5) Corporate travel isn't only tough on the folks doing the travel — it can also take a toll on the back office.

Pick of the Week

This is a pretty interesting animation of the market capitalization of tech companies over the last 23 years. (Click the image below to see the animation).

Tech companies' market cap over the last 23 years

(Via Reddit)

About the Author: Mike Volpe
Mike is the CEO of and an active member of the startup community as a board member at Validity and Privy, and as an angel investor in more than 40 startups. Before Lola he held executive positions at HubSpot and Cybereason.