When OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, recently announced that it would be opening its first office outside the U.S., few who were roaming the tech corridors of Silicon Valley likely were surprised that the generative AI company chose London for its new outpost.
As a backdrop to the decision, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been energetically pitching the UK as the intellectual and geographical “home” of AI, at the same time that UK executive recruiters have been busy compiling evidence to convince tech prospects that the UK is on the verge of becoming the next Silicon Valley.
Such claims are bold moves indeed, but ones for which a resume such as that of American Michael Bannon might serve the recruiting community as “Exhibit A.”Read More
A quick glance at Bannon’s bio reveals a familiar professional trajectory, from his 11 years as an investor with TPG Global of San Francisco to the operations side, where to date he has occupied the CFO office at three different tech firms. Other noted Bay Area laurels have included an MBA from Stanford and board seat with Meals on Wheels, San Francisco (2013 to 2017). Bannon’s resume is one that any aspiring Silicon Valley CFO might hope to someday replicate, although any peruser of it would also note that his professional journey has also been a geographic one.
“My assumption was that I would end up in the Bay Area, but one of the conversations that I had was with a London-based company—and you know how one conversation can quickly lead to two or three,” explains Bannon, who after 6 years in the UK recently opened his third CFO chapter with SaaS software developer Typeform.
Still, based in London, Bannon points out that as the UK’s tech community has expanded, so too has the “weight class” of tech companies that he now prefers as a finance leader.
“I love this size of company because I think that there really is an opportunity for each of us here as an individual to have an impact,” he notes, going on to give little to no mention of his geographically nomadic professional path. “I love building teams and building organizations—and so far, the companies of which I’ve been a part have grown significantly over the periods of time when I have been with them.”
Says Bannon: “As an American who was based out in the Bay Area for close to 15 years, to now get to see the tech scene over here in Europe is a pretty special thing—it’s where I feel that I can be additive, given my previous experience.” –Jack Sweeney
“Being CFO gives you a view of the company that very few people have. Work hard to communicate and share the data, metrics, and insights that you have with the entire organization. You won’t always be the decision-maker, but doing so will allow you to have a much larger impact in making the business successful.” –Michael Bannon, CFO, Typeform
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CFOTL: Tell us about Typeform … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Bannon: One of the things that I’m challenging myself to do is to stay away from buzzwords and jargon. I think that these are crutches that a lot of us use. Let me try to describe in simple terms what we do, going back to the beginning. Typeform is about 12 years old as a company. We were started when a firm asked our two cofounders, who were designers, to build them a beautiful and different kind of survey to collect customer feedback. Our cofounders naturally really focused on the design elements of the survey, from the points of view not just of the creator of the feedback form but also of the respondent. Most folks have used Typeform, whether they know it or not. It’s a conversational tool for collecting data, so think forms, think surveys, think customer acquisition, think feedback, think employee engagement. You can do so many different things with this tool.Read More
Typeform is really just an easy way for someone to be able to create a form. It’s a low-code tool to gather data in a conversational manner. You’ll know that you’re familiar with it if you’ve ever entered your name and then had the tool refer to you by name as you go through it. For me, it would say, “Hey, can you tell us your name?” I would type in “Michael,” and it would say, “Michael, thanks for taking our survey—there are just a few things that we’d like to know.” And we go from there.
It’s always been very design-focused. It’s always been for companies that really want to give the respondent—their customer, their employee, their whoever—the best possible experience. It’s been a fun business for me to learn about because I think that what you find is that the creators of these forms really love the tool. It’s easy to use. It’s intuitive. They can be up and running in minutes. Respondents love this tool, too, because it feels like they’re having a conversation. It feels like a personalized interaction that they’re having with the company.
One of the things that drew me to Typeform was that I found that there were very few companies, particularly in this B2B SaaS space, that have a product that people love. I’m just starting to get some of my own swag now, but when I’ve stood next to a few people who have been wearing their Typeform shirts, people have come up to them and said: “Oh, do you work at that company? I love Typeform.” I think that this is a very special thing about what we do. Typeform is this really special tool that’s allowed businesses and their customers to have some terrific conversations over the past 12 years.
Typeform | www.typeform.com | Barcelona, Spain