Navigating the high Cs: Puppet Labs, Elemental, and Urban Airship have all recently secured senior CFO talent

It’s always interesting to watch startups attract and secure senior talent. And when three of them secure CFOs in rapid succession, things are even more interesting. Which is exactly what’s happening around Portland these days where financial officers seem to be a hot commodity for startups.

Puppet Labs started the trend late last year with the hiring of former Skype CFO Bill Koefed:

Prior to joining Puppet Labs, Koefoed was CFO of the Skype Division of Microsoft, where he played a key role in leading its global strategy and finance organization. Prior to Skype, Koefoed was general manager of investor relations for Microsoft, where he was responsible for communications to the financial community regarding Microsoft’s activities, financial performance and business plans. Prior to investor relations, Koefoed was general manager of finance and strategy for Microsoft IT.

Koefoed joined Microsoft from Hewlett-Packard, where he led the strategy & planning team for customer & sales operations. Prior to joining HP, Koefoed was a managing director for PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting, where he was instrumental in the planning and execution of the HP/Compaq and IBM/PwC merger integrations as well as the Agilent and Palm spin-offs.

Elemental followed suit, hiring CFO John Ewert, the former VP of Finance for Palo Alto Networks:

Prior to joining Elemental, Ewert was Vice President of Finance for Palo Alto Networks, where he installed the financial management and reporting infrastructure required for its successful public offering and rapid growth as a public company. Previously, he held various leadership roles at Oracle Corporation and Sun Microsystems, both Fortune 500 companies, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, a Big Four public accounting firm. His diverse background includes time spent serving in the U.S. Army and earning an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley, with an emphasis in corporate finance and strategy.

And today, Urban Airship announced that interim CFO Mike Temple had decided to remove the “interim” from his title:

Mike brings more than 20 years’ experience in executive finance roles from a broad spectrum of business sectors including software, medical devices, traditional manufacturing, and service delivery for public, private, startup and not-for-profit enterprises. Prior to Urban Airship, Mike was the president of PlusPoint, a consulting CFO practice, and prior to PlusPoint he was CEO of Sonivate Medical. He has served in a number of executive finance and operational roles, including CFO/COO of Open Source Development Labs, CFO/executive VP and general manager of Bioject Inc., CFO of the Yoshida Group, CFO of Inovise Medical, and CFO of FamilyCare Health Plans.

Now, I’m not the best at prognostication, but I’m fairly certain that this trend of hiring seasoned CFOs is likely an indicator of very intriguing times in our not so distant future. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

(Image courtesy seanavigatorsson. Used under Creative Commons.)

  1. Another great option for companies that need the finance direction that can come from an experienced CFO, without paying for one full-time, is to bring in a part-time CFO.

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