The Zirtual fiasco

As a former part time CFO I’ve been following the sudden demise of Zirtual with great interest. If you haven’t been following along, the company shut down last weekend with no warning. The founder blames her part time CFO, Ryan Keating. Here’s my take:

Whether you hire someone full time or part time, you can delegate but should never abdicate responsibility. Zirtual’s founder says her company failed because her part time CFO failed to forecast 3 payroll periods instead of 2 in a month. That’s BS.

Continue reading The Zirtual fiasco

The High performance CFO

Here are the slides from my talk yesterday at Point Nine Capital‘s SaaS Founder Meetup.  Point Nine is a Berlin-based seed fund with investments across the Globe. Their partner Christoph Janz has a real focus on SaaS and as a result they have built a broad global SaaS portfolio. They were a seed investor in Zendesk and have invested in many other great SaaS companies. They co-invested in Unbounce with me a few year’s back. Yesterday’s event (still going on today) was full of amazing founders sharing vast amounts of knowledge. I’ll post some notes from it later this week.

In the meantime, here are my slides on the things you need to know about when to hire a CFO, what they do, etc. Plus some random topics to consider once you have a CFO in the building. I’ve been doing this for so long that I take it for granted. But what I learned from the founders and VCs at the event yesterday was that many (in fact, most) startups don’t get to the point where they need a real, full time CFO. And so, this whole subject was foreign territory.

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Hiring Part Time Execs

In this World of seed / micro VC funded startups, round sizes are smaller than they used to be. That’s a good thing. But it can pose challenges when it comes to building out your management team. Either you can’t afford/ don’t need a full time exec or those execs won’t join because you don’t have enough cash in the bank to make them comfortable.

One way to deal with these issues to hire part time executives. I see this happening more and more. Continue reading Hiring Part Time Execs

2009: The Year of the CFO

Economist Magazine has declared 2009 to be ” the year of the CFO “. According to the highly esteemed publication “power will ebb from visionary bosses to the chief financial officer”.

There’s no question that in today’s economic climate organizations of all sizes need strong financial leaders. I’m not worried about big organizations. They have CFOs. I do worry about smaller companies that often wait too long before seeking out financial expertise.

No matter how small your company and budget, you can and should line up finance expertise. Even if your business is not ready for a full time finance leader, you can find plenty that offer their services part time. I have included a partial list of part-time / interim CFO sources at the bottom of this post.

If 2009 is the year of the CFO, then I promise to use my new-found power for good. 🙂

Interim CFO service providers:






In addition, many people operate as independent CFOs. Ask your lawyer, accountant or local network if they know anyone.