Startups

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The AICPA Is Trying to Innovate You Right Out of a Job

As we are all painfully aware, the accounting industry isn’t exactly known for its groundbreaking commitment to early adoption and innovation. Despite its over 150-year history of being reactive and clinging desperately to the way things have always been, the AICPA announced this week a new initiative that hopes to fund important accounting startups. The […]

Are You Startup CFO Material?

I like this CFO article on finance chiefs who prefer startups. Had I not bailed on my accounting and finance career for the glamorous world of writing on the internet, I think I would've pursued this route. The reasons for preferring smaller companies offered by the CFOs in the article are what you would expect: […]

From Andersen to CFO to Startup Founder: A Conversation with Chris Farrell, CEO of Tallie

There is a whole world out there where tech meets accounting that I was never exposed to in my 8 years practicing. Since leaving the accounting world to found my own startup it's been exciting to uncover some of the leading companies improving accounting as we know it. I wanted to learn more about what […]

The Accounting Profession’s Murky Future

The accounting profession is in a weird place. Maybe that’s too polite; the profession is in a demonstrably fucked up place. This is obvious to some people, not so obvious to others. I say this as an observer, of course, and not someone who lives in the profession like many of you. But, really, it […]

The Hottest Silicon Valley Accounting Startup: A Conversation with inDinero Founder Jessica Mah

One of the biggest distractions for small-business owners has to be maintaining their books and their accounting. Attaining a firm for the business might be too expensive an endeavor, yet handling it by yourself takes away valuable time from growing your core business. Enter inDinero: a one-stop shop for all your bookkeeping needs. The company […]

PBCs Are NBD: A Conversation with Craig Baldwin and Ryan Watson of Sqrl

Ed. note: This is the second interview in a new series of conversations with accountants who have started a business. Whether it's a CPA firm, a coffee shop, or a mobile app, we're talking to accountants that have an entrepreneurial streak. If you want to suggest an accountant-turned-entrepreneur for this series, email us. For many […]

Should You Be a Freelance CPA?

Companies like The Siegfried Group have been poaching people from accounting firms for years, offering them 10% raises and quarterly bonuses. But for many of you, there’s an even better deal than they can offer. If you work for just 3 months next busy season, can you make 75% of an employee’s annual income as a […]

SEC Working On Protecting Ridiculously Rich People From Investing In Stupid Startups

Since 1982, the SEC has defined an "accredited investor" as someone with $1 million sitting around collecting dust or annual income of $200,000 in each of the previous two years with the reasonable assumption of making at least $200,000 in the year ahead. In 2006, Chris Cox wanted to bump that up to $3 million, […]

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.