Looking back on her career as a corporate finance executive, Angela Pierce says that the call of leadership arrived at a moment of unvarnished frustration.
Sixteen years ago, when the management of Level 3 Communications was expressing a keen interest in acquiring Pierce’s then-company, Broadwing Corporation, it was not the first time that Pierce found herself sitting across from Level 3 corporate development executives.Read More
In fact, as Broadwing’s vice president of finance, Pierce had been involved in two earlier engagements when Level 3 executives had expressed similar sentiments—only to have nothing come out of the exercises in M&A due diligence.
For Pierce, the third engagement necessitated a more direct approach—one that signaled to Level 3 that Broadwing management was confident that further negotiation was not necessary.
“At some point, you have acquired the required competence from your past experiences, so I said to the executive, ‘Look, I don’t want to do this again, so here’s the deal,’” recalls Pierce, who adds that she shortly received a term sheet for a $1.4 billion deal that would be signed only a few days later.
While Pierce says that she was just expressing a sentiment shared by Broadwing’s wider management, her grasp of the deal’s fundamentals and confidence in her own ability to deliver the message abruptly quelled any angst concerning her future leadership roles.
“At that moment,” she observes, “I realized that I wanted to be the one to make the call.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Anaconda … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Pierce: Well, our programming language Python is officially now the most popular programming language in the world, surpassing all of the others. It’s primarily a computational language for data science. MLOps and AI, artificial intelligence—these areas that you hear about in the news—are all based on Python.
Anaconda has been around for about 12 years. Our founder, Peter Wang, started the company with a vision of data literacy. He pioneered the use of Python for data science and championed its open-source community. Our enterprise-grade solutions enable corporate, research, and academic institutions around the world to harness Python to allow companies and individuals and data practitioners to unleash analysis. AI and ML and all of these things have been enabled because of Python, really.Read More
Today, there are tens of thousands of individuals around the world who make Python packages. It’s open-source, so harnessing these packages and getting all of them to work together so that there are no dependency issues and so forth is very difficult.
If you’re Wells Fargo and you’re trying to work with Python packages and your people are wrangling with a data mess, what Anaconda does is take these packages out in the world, open-source, and rebuild them so that they all work together seamlessly. We provide metadata and security around these packages so that they’re enterprise-ready and enterprise-harnessed. A big company might say: “Hey, we don’t want to have open-source packages all over our enterprise. That’s crazy—there are vulnerabilities—that’s scary.” To which we say: “Let us help. If you come get your Python packages through Anaconda in our repositories, we ensure that you’ve got metadata and interoperability and that you have a throat to choke. It’s not just 10,000 people out there in the world. You can actually come to us and we’ll help you solve your problems—and we have security.”
I would say that we believe that we are the largest distributor of enterprise packages in the world for Python. We ship 6 billion software packages a year and we have about 28 million people a year who come to get our packages, so we’re big—and in 240 countries. Huge, huge footprint. Our offers are commercial offers largely around those use cases. Our customers are the Fortune 1000. I think that 98 or 99 of the Fortune 100 use our stuff, but then we’re also used by small enterprises who may have 20 employees and an AI product. It’s pretty groundbreaking stuff. So, that’s what we do.
“If you’re a CFO—with ‘No’ sometimes as the easiest answer—don’t be afraid to say, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’ There’s often no one standing behind you to tell you that you’re wrong, so maintain both your confidence and your humility. Humility comes with experience, so practice it early and often.” –Angela Pierce, CFO, Anaconda
Anaconda | www.anaconda.com | Austin, TX