518: Illuminating the Product Development Path | Pete Tantillo, CFO, RapidRatings

Listen to the Episode Below (00:43:16)

Pete Tantillo recalls being somewhat surprised when he discovered that his career path could be leading to the CFO office. “I’m sort of an accidental CFO,” explains Tantillo, who first arrived inside the finance function in the mid-1990s, when his employer tasked him with making a promising new ERP application meet the needs of finance.

The successful implementation led to a job offer from then little-known SAP–which was busy launching the next great technology wave, known as the client server. Tantillo loved the work (he stayed at SAP for 13 years) and eventually ran SAP’s services–the role that would ultimately become his career game changer.

Having helped to grow a profitable services business alongside SAP’s software juggernaut, Tantillo was hired away from SAP by a former mentor who believed that Tantillo’s services smarts could help her to turn around a struggling software unit.

However, Tantillo’s responsibilities went well beyond services, as he became tasked with organizing, monetizing, and supporting the company’s finance and business operations. This would the first in a number of CFO tours of duty that from a career experience point of view would appear to have been anything but accidental. —Jack Sweeney


Guest: Pete Tantillo

Company: RapidRatings

Headquarters: New York, New York

Connect: www.rapidratings.com

CFOTL: When you first arrived, what were your priorities as far as how finance served the organization went?

Tantillo: I think that it was pretty early on when we sorted out all of the different elements of reporting and agreed upon aligning metrics that were interesting and relevant for our investors as well as ones that I felt that we needed to focus on and rally around as a business. This was kind of the first step that was accomplished. Then, over time, I also became responsible for the HR and legal functions within the business, which were transitioned over to me. So I added those in. We always had in our first round of capital infusion a plan that the company would need to raise money again by 2018, so it was another big milestone when we closed our B round with a different investor group last year. This was a large amount of work, as you might imagine. Now it’s all about growing the top line and being on a greater path to more profit and more cash flow.

CFOTL: What are the metrics that are top-of-mind for you going forward?

Tantillo: The most important thing that we look at is the growth in our ACV, or annual contract value. ACV is the go-forward metric in the health of the business and one which our investors are keenly focused on. They want to see the top line grow, and ACV is a good measure of the future revenue stream of the business because we’re a SaaS-based platform. Therefore, all of the revenue stream is essentially a calculation based upon the contract and subscription length. In a certain way, this is a little bit more mechanical in a SaaS-based business. Some of the other companies that I’ve worked at over the years certainly had SAP, and others had on-premise revenue, and that was very different than just SaaS-based revenue. It was more contingent upon the results of the quarter and more an endless predictable, whereas with a SaaS-based business, the revenue side is basically predictable very easily based upon the contracts that you have on your book. But what you really need to do with scale, with the ACV, is to be able to drive that future revenue stream. So, that’s what’s top-of-mind for me. jb