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A little more than 18 months ago, when CFO Kelly Steckelberg joined Zoom Video Communications, there were a number of key hires that needed to be made if the company was going to achieve its goal of selling shares to the public in the not-too-distant future. Three months after Zoom’s IPO and one month after its first earnings call, those hires are still top-of-mind for Steckelberg, who, while working alongside CEO Eric Yuan, filled the positions of general counsel, head of investor relations, and head of FP&A. Next, Steckelberg says, she wanted to make certain that finance and sales “had a great cadence” as far as how the teams interacted went and established a level of visibility into the sales pipeline that would allow Zoom to forecast on a weekly basis.
Looking back, Steckelberg says that visibility into sales and spending was good when she stepped into the CFO role–but not where it needed to be. “When I arrived here, there was one FP&A analyst. She was doing a great job of holding it all together while using Excel–but it was just not enough. We had the good fortune of being a company that was growing very quickly, and the spending was appropriate–but we needed to be a little tighter.” —Jack Sweeney
CFOTL: The first earnings call following an IPO is always a big undertaking, but Zoom’s was perhaps even more demanding because in addition to discussing quarterly earnings for the first time, you were putting the company’s technology on full display. Tell us about that …
Steckelberg: The bar really got raised on our first earnings call. Of course, we have to ensure that our processes are closed, our forecast, that everything is done absolutely perfectly and accurately and on a timely basis. We are highlighting the power of what Zoom does every single day, and we run video so that people can see us. It creates a whole new level of transparency, I think, for investors and research analysts to see the management team. So it was Eric, our CEO, myself, and our head of IR, Tom, and they could see us, right? They could see how we responded, our body language. I think that the reaction to that and the response to that has been overwhelmingly favorable. I’ve talked about this to investors and analysts since then, and they’ve loved the format.
They loved the interaction that it created. They loved, again, the visibility and transparency, that they could see into us. And for us, I think that it was also really great. I loved it, that we could see the way that we did it and that the research analysts were like panelists. When they were asking questions, we could see them. I loved the interaction that it created. It’s much better than just talking into a black box, talking into a black box of a phone and not having any idea how people are reacting. The “Is anybody out there?” sort of thing. So I really enjoyed it and thought that it was a much better format for all of us. jb