Wednesday, January 15, 2020

New Fundbox CFO a 'Swiss Army Knife' of expertise

Dive Brief:
  • B2B payments and credit network Fundbox named Marten Abrahamsen CFO, the company announced Tuesday. The company just completed $176 million in Series C funding.​
  • Abrahamsen is the newest addition to Fundbox’s executive team. He joins Leslie Olsen as chief marketing officer, Allison Wirth as chief compliance officer, and Todd Hamblet as chief legal officer and corporate secretary.
  • Abrahamsen “brings a whole new level of financial knowledge and industry expertise [to Fundbox],” founder and CEO Eyal Shinar said in a statement. The company helps clients access funds owed them. A 2019 study found $3.1 trillion in capital is owed to U.S. companies, but is locked up in accounts receivables “limbo,” according to Fundbox's press release. ​

Dive Insight:

Tim Donovan, head of corporate communications for Fundbox, told CFO Dive management had searched for two years for the right person for the CFO role before finding Abrahamsen.

"We see Marten as the Swiss army knife," Donovan said. ​"He has investing and financial experience and the rigor to invest in the right processes and procedures that would set our company up if and when we’re ready to go public.”

Donovan said the executive team at Fundbox wants CFOs and finance teams to understand that the world of B2B is changing, and the biggest inhibitor to growth is the status quo. Fundbox, he said, has put a lot of money into artificial intelligence and machine learning in order to accurately assess the risk, health and wellness of a business.

The company's approach is especially helpful to small businesses, Abrahamsen believes. “That might sound overly simplistic, but small businesses have a lot of challenges that big companies don’t,” he told CFO Dive. “They don’t have power over their customers. If you’re a Walmart, you can kind of dictate terms. Small business owners can’t.”

In practice, this means small businesses often have to wait to get paid. “If you run a small business, and are waiting for a $25,000 invoice, you may not get payroll until you get that invoice.” he said. “And sometimes it can be up in the air if you’ll even really get paid. Fundbox steps in the middle there, and gives these businesses more predictability and certainty.” 
Pathway to IPO
Abrahamsen says his long background as an investor can help Fundbox execute on its vision. Prior to joining the company, he served as a partner and growth equity investor at investment firm The Chernin Group. Before that, he was a senior investor at Coatue Management’s private company investment fund, leading growth investments and advising portfolio companies on strategy, financial planning, and fundraising, the release said. Abrahamsen began his career as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs.

He says his skills are in “looking at many different parts of the business, and asking, ‘Do I think this is a business that could one day be worth a lot of money?’ Also, in getting to know this business, I’ve worked with a lot of people in the finance function and across the organization, and I ask, ‘Are we building the right product, and do we have the right engineering efforts?’”

He also cites his “very deep [knowledge]” on what it takes for a company to go public, which he says is on Fundbox’s roadmap. “I can express through metrics what we’re doing, and how well we’re doing," he said. "Those are the unique aspects of my background."

He said Fundbox is “quite a dramatic shift, candidly,” from his previous jobs. “But that’s the exciting part.”

In earlier positions, he said, “I’ve worked closely with CFOs, have been on committees to hire CFOs, and have been the interim finance leader of companies from time to time. I’ve done it, partially, from many different angles, but never had the complete day to day responsibilities [of CFO], and that’s very exciting.”

Investors always look for the next deal, or opportunity, he said. “You spend a lot of time getting to know the business, but once you make the investment, it’s onto the next,” he explained. “Now this is like a complete deep dive. I’m in our Dallas office making our sales team now, and going to depths for this company I’ve never gone on before. I’m going from mile wide, inch deep, to extremely deep on a single business.”

As an investor, Abrahamsen advised businesses on [optimization], but doesn’t get deeply involved in a single business for a solid period of time. “That’s what’s so exciting to me about putting all my efforts, energy, thoughts and dreams into how I can help Fundbox succeed, as opposed to just investing when I help my portfolio companies succeed,” he said. “It’s a big mental shift in how I spend my time and brain capacity.”

Even so, he sees his giant portfolio history as an asset going forward. “As an investor, I have both the blessing and the curse [of having worked with] a thousand companies over the last decade, and seen so many things,” he said. “I’m now thinking about how [I] have to commit to a singular company. [I was] extremely picky on what I would give up an investing career to do, but that’s what I’ve found in Fundbox.

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