Despite a global pandemic and recession, CFO Tim Bixby recently helped steer Lemonade to one of the best IPO debuts of 2020. Having traveled the entire startup-journey through IPO more than once (LPSN, SSTK), Tim has the critical experience and insight into the leadership and strategy necessary to be a successful CFO.
This week, Tim joined The Circle to share these insights and experiences with his peers in the first installment of the “Ask Me Anything” Circle|Calls series. Answering questions from fellow CFO|Circle members, Tim provided advice on both IPO-specific best practices and general CFO guidelines.
Tim first discussed the particular factors that spurred Lemonade to go public when it did, noting that there was no real ‘inflection point’ but rather an accumulation of data that suggested going public would be worthwhile. In general, he recommended that the CFO and finance team spend some time getting the financial house in order so that whenever the CEO and Board decide it’s time to go public, the legal, financial, and compliance teams are ready.
Next, the community asked Tim about the Lemonade IPO structure. He shared how once the company gained confidence in the numbers, they rationalized that an IPO structure would best suit their business. Tim outlined that while other deal structures such as a SPAC or Direct Listing had their advantages, Lemonade only seriously considered going the IPO route.
Tim then went into considerable detail in describing the preparation necessary for navigating a successful IPO. He shared the advantages of hiring outsourced firms for assistance in all fields, from accounting to media/investor relations training and IT security. He stressed the importance of staying true to the company’s identity. Tim further emphasized the importance of surveying the menu of options concerning outsourced help, particularly for those without prior IPO experience.
As the conversation shifted more towards CFO’s best practices when transitioning from a private company to a public one, Tim acknowledged that the CFO needed to be able to communicate the narrative of a company in a similar manner to the CEO without focusing purely on the finance side. Indeed, the CFO also needs to answer the tough questions about a business while only giving the necessary information, a skill that Tim recommends one practice often.
The conversation wrapped up with Tim’s retrospection on how his leadership style has evolved over the course of his career with three public companies. Indeed, Tim recommended CFOs adapt and evolve along with their companies, altering their roles to best fit the company’s particular needs at a given point.
Curious about the details shared in this conversation? You can be a part of the next one by joining The Circle, apply here.
Next up on the Ask Me Anything series:
Criss Harms formerly of Forescout
Lee Kirkpatrick formerly of Twilio
Jeff Epstein formerly of Oracle