When Rob Krolik agreed to join us for a CFO (emeritus) episode, we expected to hear about the successful business turnaround chapter that he added to his finance resume while CFO at Move.com. We also anticipated learning about his years at Yelp, where—back in 2011, as the firm’s new CFO—he was credited with helping to lead one of the year’s most successful IPOs.
While Krolik was only too happy to share a few thoughts regarding both of these chapters, he also reflected on a place in time about which we never expected to hear—namely, when a speech delivered by the outgoing president of his international youth group turned out to be plagiarized and in fact a word-for-word copy of an address given by another retiring president a number of years earlier.Read More
“It was a very moving speech and I had put the guy up on a pedestal, so it taught me not to put anyone up there,” explains Krolik, who notes that this experience from his teen years led him to enter the professional world with a self-mandate to treat people as individuals.
“It actually allowed me to treat people equally at the different jobs I’ve had. Whether it was a CEO or COO or the lowest-level accountant, they were going to be treated all the same,” he continues.
Still, Krolik’s egalitarian pledge has not stifled his willingness to offer generous praise to past mentors and bosses alike, among whom is counted finance executive Robert Swan, the former CFO of eBay (and more recently Intel CEO), who is allotted perhaps the lion’s share of Krolik’s kudos.
“He was able to explain things in a way that made sense to everyone in the room and not just the tech people and not just the finance and accounting people,” recalls Krolik, who joined eBay after the firm acquired Shopping.com, where Krolik had served in his first CFO role.
Krolik would stay on at eBay as a vice president of finance for another 3 years before entering the CFO office at Move.com. –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: When it comes to the pandemic and the past 12 months, what is the big takeaway for FP&A teams?
Krolik: Well, I think that there are a couple of things.
There will be a desire to have a worst-case scenario, just to see what it would look like, how it would impact the business, and how quickly you basically could lay off a bunch of people and reset the business from a cash standpoint, in order to survive. I think that just having this in your back pocket and thinking through what this would look like will remain something that good FP&A people, good CFOs, will work on.Read More
I also think that things have fast-forwarded in time and are more digital. Businesses that were just doing okay have accelerated. While some businesses actually haven’t done well, a lot of companies—especially in the technology world—have done extremely well. I think that they’re in a position where they can take advantage of things that they probably hadn’t thought that they would be able to for another 3 to 5 years.
Thinking through the strategic aspects of this and understanding what it means to a business is important. For example, I know of a very large public company that is getting rid of 70% of their real estate—like facilities, like workspace. This will save them hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
What does this mean now, post-COVID? What does this mean for the workforce? Where will people be located? I think that it will be a very big exercise to think all of these things through. To me, it’s fun to think through all of this and incorporate it into your forecasts and planning. This is meaningful stuff, and it can really help a company to advance their industry progress, their competitiveness.
All of these technology platforms allow you to compile data to see what’s going on and then project very quickly. The accounting and finance teams can be so much more nimble today than they were in the past, and I find this pretty exciting.
Value Quote: “I tell up-and-coming CFOs that if they’re doing all of the modeling, if they’re doing all of the accounting, then they’re down in the weeds and they won’t see the big picture. To become a strategic CFO, they need to use the technology platforms to compile the data and see what is really going on.”
Burst Capital | www.burst.llc | Palo Alto, CA