Will Johnson can still hear the question that momentarily muted a management dinner and prodded the gathering’s executive diners to thoughtfully dispatch an answer.
“’If you weren’t in your current role, which one—held by a peer at this table—would you assume?,’” recalls Johnson, echoing the inquisitor’s words.
“There were some really surprising answers,” he continues, noting that the head of sales expressed a desire to lead HR.
Still, no answer was perhaps more surprising to Johnson than his own.Read More
“I actually did cite the CFO role,” comments Johnson, who even now—after having subsequently held three consecutive CFO positions—seems to be a bit surprised at his willingness to supply such an answer that evening.
At the time, Johnson was a senior corporate development executive—albeit with future CFO aspirations but until that night they had been left unspoken, at least in gatherings.
Johnson reports that there was a period in his career when he found it difficult to admit to himself and others that the CFO role was becoming accessible to him.
“Shame on me! I still had in my head an antiquated notion of what it took to become a CFO,” remarks Johnson, who credits a CFO mentor who entered the office from the more traditional CPA route with having dissuaded him of the notion that he too needed to be a CPA.
“The role’s orientation itself had really shifted to where you were spending as much time looking out the windshield as you were in the rearview mirror,” observes Johnson, who mentions that he’s speaking specifically of venture-backed and high-growth firms.
If Johnson left the dinner with any doubts about having voiced his answer that evening, they likely vanished 6 months later when the company’s CEO, accompanied by a board member, approached him to be the company’s next CFO. –Jack Sweeney
Made Possible By
CFOTL: Tell us about Iterable … what does it do, and what are its offerings?
Johnson: Just last month, we celebrated our 9-year anniversary, which is a milestone in and of itself and one of which we’re super proud. Iterable is a cross-channel platform that powers unified customer experiences. We help to empower our buying persona—marketeers in consumer-facing organizations—to create, to optimize, and then, ultimately, to measure digital interactions with their end customer, the consumer. We help them to create experiences through digital channels that their customers love.Read More
We talk about “joyifying” the consumer experience for the thousand or so brands that we now are so lucky to count as our customers. We have about 650 employees in offices in San Francisco, Denver, and New York, as well as in London. Like many businesses at this point, we also have a very rich and growing remote community, as well.
We are so fortunate to have a great group of investors, including Silver Lake, CRV, and Viking. To give you a sense of scale: Last fall, we crossed $100 million in ARR. The vast majority of our customers are consumer brands and B2C businesses themselves, such as DoorDash, Calm, and Box, to name just a few.
What does a customer experience or customer engagement platform actually do? For example, DoorDash would use it to initially market to you and acquire you as a customer and then perhaps to alert you to restaurants that you might like and promotions that might be relevant to you. Presumably, you place your first order, and they then follow up with transactional messages on delivery status. They continue to follow up after you’ve received your first order in order to nurture you and ensure that just as for the vast, vast majority of their consumers, they start to develop a long-term relationship with you. Our platform enables all of what I’ve described in such consumer life cycles and use cases. We reach and engage our target consumers where are they are, which means across all sorts of digital channels, whether mobile, email, or Web.
“The purpose of leadership in any capacity, really, is to create and foster more leaders, not more followers. Hire great people, encourage them to stretch a bit beyond their comfort levels, and then serve as the safety net when inevitably they make mistakes, as we all do. Financials are just one measure of a company’s output or current state—its key drivers are people, people, and people.” –Will Johnson, CFO, Iterable
Interable | www.iterable.com | San Francisco, CA