San Francisco-based aerial analytics company Kespry has hired Langley Eide as CFO-COO, the company announced last week.
Eide has previously served as chief strategy officer at Alteryx and as executive director of capital markets for Morgan Stanley, among other roles. She will use her strategy and finance experience to drive Kespry’s strategic vision and lead its finance, analysis, research and revenue growth, the company said.
“I am really excited that Kespry is building on its leadership position in aerial intelligence to make it easier for everyone to work with and understand perception-based data,” Eide said in the announcement. “Any organization with significant real assets ... can reduce costs and boost asset value. The future of industrial work is accelerating through digital transformation augmented by computer vision and machine learning.”
Eide is the latest executive to step into a combined CFO-COO role. The joint position enables one person to manage both the financial and operational sides of an enterprise without overlapping on duties with others in the C-suite.
Kespry is an ideal company for the joint position because of its rapid growth, Eide told CFO Dive. Last year, its aerial intelligence platform hosted 22,987 missions across 3,311 worksites across North America, according to the announcement.
Eide cited her background in capital markets and research analysis as integral to helping the company navigate its way through its expected growth trajectory. The company, she said, has a “very nice baseline business in aerial intelligence” and it's now "expanding into other forms of industry.”
This expansion opens up the market potential for the company to address a broader group of companies and potentially serve a broader group of customers, she said.
Sox issue drove CFO-COO trend
The movement to combine the CFO and COO positions has its roots in Sarbanes Oxeley (Sox) compliance, Eide said, because CFOs were put in a position of needing business systems and processes "as they scaled up and contemplated capital markets. That’s — if you go back 15 years — what really precipitated a natural convergence of those two roles.”
“If [a business] has a COO in place," she added, "assuming they have control of insights and products, it can push the CFO role into being a raw accounting, controller, and tech audit-focused, which diminishes their ability to be a lever in the business. In a small organization, a strong CFO wants to have an impact, and wants to be able to accelerate growth and programmatic marketing ability, and help the business grow smarter and manage cost ... Without control of those levers, you’re in a tough position."
Accounting support crucial
Having professionals in place that can ensure the accounting and finance functions are covered is critical to any finance leader's success, she said.
Every finance team of which she's been a part has included a finance executive with a Big 4 accounting background. “If you don’t have that background, you absolutely need a controller with that background in your organization as one of your key lieutenants,” she said.
“A number of folks with my background of careers on Wall Street and operations who later got into CFO roles would agree that accounting controllership isn’t something they specialized in,” she said. “So it’s important to surround yourself with people with that background, especially post-IPO."