Had the opportunity to work in the treasury department at American Express arrived 6 months earlier, there’s a chance that John Herman may never have landed in a CFO office.
“Treasury was an area that I was fascinated by,” remembers Herman, who—after having spent a decade at American Express—was given a “package” in 2009 when the financial crisis mercilessly bore down on the card services giant.
However, in April of 2010, Herman punted the Amex treasury opportunity in order to accept an FP&A position at Yodle, an online marketing company that was generating roughly $50 million in annual revenue.Read More
“I decided that I wanted to work in an organization where I could make an impact, and I felt that it was time to take a risk in my career,” recalls Herman, who would report directly to Yodle’s CFO and for the next several months be “a department of one.”
“There was this opportunity to build out my team and take on new roles and learn really quickly,” recounts Herman.
Along the way, Yodle would make multiple acquisitions and grow to more than $200 million in annual sales before being acquired by Web.com in early 2016. Herman had steadily advanced upward and eventually into the CFO office, where he ultimately led the due diligence and oversaw the sale process for the Web.com sale.
“It ultimately came down to the fact that it was the right time to sell,” comments Herman, who within 6 months of the Yodle sale closing garnered his second CFO appointment at early-stage SaaS developer Movable Ink.
Six years later, Movable Ink has surpassed the $100 million mark in annual recurring revenue and was recently valued at $1.3 billion—joining a select class of marketing technology brands.
Asked whether he had ever contemplated becoming a CFO during the first half of his career, Herman replies, “I definitely didn’t grow up saying, ‘Someday, I want to be a CFO’—it’s really been a journeyman’s trip to where I have now arrived.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Movable Ink … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Herman: Movable Ink was founded 11 years ago by Vivek Sharma, who’s the CEO, and Michael Nutt, who’s the CTO. We’re a marketing technology company that sells to enterprises, so we’re not a household brand name for consumers. We make firms’ marketing better. We got our start in the email channel, but we’ve expanded into SMS and mobile and Web. What we do is easier to see than to describe. We activate data to enable personalization for our clients, and we do this in a way that enables them to create closer one-to-one communication in their emails and in their SMS and mobile apps.Read More
For example, since before the pandemic, Delta has sent out emails reminding you to check in. Part of this check-in email includes a seat map, which is powered by us. We have an API that can pull data from their systems so that we can build the map. If you, as the customer, say to yourself, “Hey, I’d like to move my seat up 10 rows and be on the aisle rather than in the back,” when you clicked through to buy that seat, it would be the same seat map. It would still be available. We’re bringing this kind of real-time personalization so that the customer experience is better.
As the pandemic hit, obviously the airlines didn’t have a lot of business, but as they were coming back, there was another challenge that they were running into: All of their destinations and originations had various limitations and restrictions on what was allowed in the airports. Figuring this out was a very complicated process and obviously something that no one could do manually, but we could tap into their data, know what the origination and destination locations were, and be able to communicate one-to-one with the traveler as to what restrictions were in place specific to them.
So, it’s really all about improving the customer experience. These are just a few examples. I think that the thing that I am always amazed at is the teams that we have. Our service teams and our technology teams can do such amazing things to help these customers solve these challenges. jb
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Build a great team because they will carry you in the tough times and build strong relationships with your business partners—you need to trust them, and they need to trust you.” –John Herman, CFO, Movable Ink
Movable Ink | www.movableink.com | New York, NY