September 18, 2018

CFOs on the Move

GMAC CFO Bolts Two Weeks After TARP Testimony

This story is republished from CFOZone, where you’ll find news, analysis and professional networking tools for finance executives.

Private equity firm Providence Equity Partners announced on Tuesday that it had hired Robert S. Hull, GMAC Financial Services’ chief financial officer.

Hull will join the firm, which specializes in media, entertainment, communications and information companies, as its CFO in early April. He succeeds Raymond Mathieu, who will become a managing director focused on special projects for the firm.


The 46-year-old Hull was CFO at GMAC since 2007. He was a member of the beleaguered lender’s executive committee and served briefly on its board of directors.

Previously, he held a series of finance positions at Bank of America from 2001 to 2007, most recently as chief financial officer of the company’s global wealth and investment management business.

GMAC has received $17 billion in government bailout funds and hasn’t recorded a quarterly profit since the fourth quarter of 2008. Indeed, it has lost money in nine of the last 10 quarters and lost over $10 billion in 2009.

Hull was paid $4.9 million last year.

The departure comes just two weeks after Hull had to testify before a Congressional Oversight Panel regarding the U.S. government’s assistance to GMAC under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

In a report regarding Hull’s departure, Standard & Poor’s laid out GMAC’s many troubles, which include “resolving strategic considerations for several business lines, most notably the mortgage operation; executing its plans to diversify beyond providing auto-finance products and services to GM and Chrysler dealers and retail customers; and coping with a still-fragile economy.”

Given all those challenges, the rating agency concluded, “it is not surprising to see turnover at all levels of the institution.”

Perhaps that lack of surprise is why GMAC, for its part, didn’t even bother putting out a press release over the departure, opting to make only a two-sentence filing with the SEC:

“GMAC Financial Services today announced that Chief Financial Officer Robert S. Hull has elected to depart the company at the end of March to pursue another career opportunity. The company will conduct an internal and external search for potential CFO candidates in the interim.”

New Hartford CFO Is Latest to Flee from AIG

This story is republished from CFOZone, where you’ll find news, analysis and professional networking tools for finance executives.

Perhaps he wasn’t crazy about the new forced ranking method on pay?

The Hartford Financial Services Group announced late on Tuesday that Christopher Swift will join the insurer as chief financial officer effective March 1.

Swift, 49, is jumping ship from American Life Insurance Company (ALICO) where he was CFO. ALICO is a subsidiary of American International Group, which the bailed-out insurer is trying to sell to MetLife for $15 billion. The deal is currently hung up on a tax issue.

Hartford, which received $3.4 billion in government aid, has been undergoing a major executive shakeup.


Liam McGee, a former head of consumer banking at Bank of America, took over as chief executive in October from Ramani Ayer, who had led Hartford’s aggressive push into variable annuities and retired at the end of 2009.

Shortly after taking over, McGee tapped Hartford’s current CFO, Lizabeth Zlatkus, for its chief risk officer position. She’ll move into that role when Swift officially joins the company.

AIG, for its part, has been bleeding talent. More than 60 managers have left the company since it was bailed out in September 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Pay practices at AIG have been under intense scrutiny by the public, as well as the government.

Swift began his career as an auditor in the Chicago office of KPMG where he focused on financial services. He was made partner at 32. He then became executive vice president of Conning Asset Management, a subsidiary of General American, where he was responsible for finance, sales/marketing and information technology. After MetLife acquired Conning in 1999, Swift returned to KPMG and was eventually appointed head of the firm’s Global Insurance Industry Practice. As leader of this segment, he worked with clients in both the life and P&C segments, globally and domestically. He was responsible for matters ranging from strategic and regulatory to audit, risk, advisory and tax services.

Three Challenges for the New Twitter CFO

The micro-blogging phenom Twitter has faced a lot of doubts about its business plan as its popularity has exploded. The speed that the Company has seen and thus, the demand for monetization, led to the Company announcing the hiring of Ali Rowghani, currently CFO at Pixar, as the Twitter’s first financial chief.

The Company raised $100 million back in September and entered into licensing agreements with both Microsoft and Google to feed real time information into their search engines.

This all sounds good but Mr. Rowghani still has his work cut out for him. Here are three challenges he will face as the first CFO of Twitter:


Help Develop a Sustainable Business Model – So you’ve got this great idea, micro-blogging at 140 characters a pop. Now what? Sure you’ve struck deals with Microsoft and Google but are is there anything else cooking? How do you monetize how professionals use Twitter that doesn’t involve what you just ordered for lunch? Plus, how do address stats like these:

– 72.5% of all users joining during the first five months of 2009.

– 85.3% of all Twitter users post less than one update/day

- 21% of users have never posted a Tweet

– 93.6% of users have less than 100 followers, while 92.4% follow less than 100 people.

– 5% of Twitter users account for 75% of all activity

Control Expenses – Any startup company has to run a tight ship, regardless of their popularity and Twitter is no exception. The company is hiring engineers and other professionals that won’t come cheap (unless they pay them in equity, more on that later) and their headquarters is located in downtown San Francisco where rent doesn’t come cheap. That $100 million will burn up awfully fast if they don’t develop solid revenue streams and don’t keep costs down.

Build a strong infrastructure for the finance and accounting functions – Ultimately the CFO is responsible for the finance and accounting departments for a company. We’ll go out on a limb and say that the founders of Twitter know squat about setting up either, despite their importance within the organization.

Mr. Rowghani will have to get these functions in tip-top, especially if the pressure to take the company public proves too much to bear. Even if the Company manages to resist this route — like Facebook has so far — they still need reliable financial reporting, especially if they decided to do some less than vanilla transactions like equity comp. Additionally, they need people that will be able to lay out good financing options for the development of the Company. Whether that means borrowing money (not the best idea for a startup) or raising it through new investors (private or public) it will take airtight planning and the CFO will oversee all of it.

For the new CFO to succeed he will have address these issues and more as he balances the pressure of a weak economy and cautious investors concerned with guarding their capital.

MySpace, Trying to Remain Relevant, Hires a CFO

Thumbnail image for panic.jpgMaybe it won’t help but at least they hired one. There may be something to the strategy of not having a CFO but we’ll be damned if know what that is. Hey, if you’re making money hand over fist and getting the checks cut on time, who gives a damn, right?
Unfortunately for MySpace, their ever-shrinking market share has maybe gotten to the point where some semblance of a financial strategy may be necessary. Enter Mark Rosenbaum who will surely help turn this ship around. Or maybe not, who knows. Good luck man.
MySpace Hires Finance Chief [WSJ]

Former Citi CFO Doesn’t Hate Life Enough, Takes Position with Bank of America

sallie krawcheck.jpgIn what appears to be serious case of self-loathing, former Citigroup CFO, Sallie Krawchek has just taken a position to run the global wealth and investment division at Bank of America.
It’s rumored that Krawchek left Citi because she and Vikram couldn’t play nice, so apparently she thinks that working for a rarely sober Ken Lewis will be a much more manageable.
Former Citi CFO takes Bank of America job [AP]

A Job That You Probably Don’t Want: Citigroup CFO

200px-Citigroup.png Don’t mind if Uncle Sam is up in your biznass 24/7? Thrive in a thankless atmosphere? KPMG is your favorite Big 4 firm? We know that you don’t sleep. Job is yours.
The bastions of financial responsibility at Citigroup have announced a new CFO, the second in four months. The lucky SOB is John Gerspach who got the bump from Controller. Best of luck John. Now how about those dividend checks?
Citigroup Names Gerspach CFO; Kelly Shifted to Strategy Role [Bloomberg]

Facebook Finds a CFO, Hopefully One that is Okay with Awkward Interaction

Facebook Inc. announced today that David Ebersman will be the company’s Chief Financial Officer:

Ebersman, 39, will oversee Facebook’s finance, accounting, investor relations and real estate functions. He will formally start in September, Palo Alto, California-based Facebook said in a statement today.

You’ll note that Ebersman will oversee “investor relations”. It’s probably no coincidence that this is not a task that falls on Mark Zuckerberg who “has been known to have awkward interactions with other humans”:http://valleywag.gawker.com/344440/60-minutes-scoop-zuckerberg-remains-awkward-with-humans.
Thus, another challenge that will face Ebersman in his new position will be actually interacting with his boss. We here at Going Concern predict that awkward encounters with Zuckerberg will definitely be the biggest unforeseen challenge that Ebersman will wrestle with.
The article does not elaborate on whether Ebersman’s status updates on the social networking site are trite observations about the weather, his busy weekend, or a bad day at work.

Facebook Names Former Genentech Manager Ebersman Finance Chief”:http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a1vS1Ub87oSA [Bloomberg]