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‘My fingerprints are all over the strategy,’ says Momentive’s CFO

September 13, 2021, 10:30 AM UTC

Good morning,

“The fun thing about coming into the CFO role and being within the current company is my fingerprints are all over the strategy,” Justin Coulombe, CFO at tech company Momentive, says. “I’ve been here for two years. I didn’t have to go and re-learn the business, the leadership, or any of the relationships internally.” It was all about execution, Coulombe says.  

SurveyMonkey, founded in 1999 as a cloud-based survey tool, is now known as Momentive. The name change and launch of a new corporate site at momentive.ai took place in June. The same month, Coulombe, who joined the company in 2019, was appointed CFO. He previously served as senior vice president of finance. 

Momentive CFO Justin Coulombe.
Courtesy of Momentive

Led by CEO Zander Lurie, Momentive began trading on June 15 under the new ticker MNTV on Nasdaq. For Q2 of 2021, total revenue was $109.4 million, an increase of 20% compared to the same period last year. It has more than 20 million active users, according to the company. “Today, we’re at about $450 million in revenue; that’s we’ll do this year,” Coulombe says. Among the company’s board of directors are tennis icon and entrepreneur Serena Williams, Erika H. James, dean of Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook

I had a chat with Coulombe about the rebranding of the company and his role as CFO. “SurveyMonkey, as a brand is really beloved,” he says. “It’s just a little bit narrow. It’s a little bit more playful.” Over the past five years, SurveyMonkey, a consumer-based platform that sits “between two humans asking one another for their opinion,” has evolved, he says.

“We noticed that about 95% of our users on the platform who were paying for it were actually using it for business,” Coulombe says. So, the company headed towards the “agile experience management” that Momentive now provides. Its AI-powered platform offers products that deliver market, brand, customer, and employee insights, he says. For example, customers can continuously monitor buyer preferences for a specific industry over time. SurveyMonkey remains the survey product brand, along with GetFeedback, a product brand in the customer experience category.

So, what was the role of the finance in the relaunch? “We had to think about it from an investment perspective,” he says. “How much are we going to put into this? What does that generate for the company? What is the time horizon by which we expect to return?” Creating “a seamless” digital experience for customer transactions was also a factor, Coulombe says. In fact, the impact of digital transformation on finance is “something that’s pretty near and dear to my heart,” he says. Coulombe is a “big believer” in using technology and automation to simplify processes.

“We had a planning tool in here for probably seven years or so,” Coulombe explains. “It was a decent piece of software, but it really had kind of outstripped our needs. So, we went over to Anaplan [software] and connected it into a whole bunch of different functions like HR and into our sales organization.” Another area of transformation is using machine learning to match invoices to different payment forms, he says. “We’ve started to invest much more deeply into technologies in partnership with our CIO team,” Coulombe says. He monitors the amount of time saved on tasks and also solicits feedback from product leaders on whether it’s “leading to better pricing and packaging decisions,” he says.

Before joining Momentive, Coulombe held financial leadership positions at Autodesk. He began his career in technology investment banking. Coulombe’s first 90 days as CFO at Momentive “was all about listening” to the team. “My leadership style is very one-to-one, and personal-relationship driven. You’d be amazed what you learn just by sitting down next to folks, who you don’t always talk to, and you see what’s going on,” he says. 


See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada
sheryl.estrada@fortune.com

Big deal

Tech company CloudBees released a global survey on September 9, which found 18- to 24-year-old respondents ranked software development as their top choice for a career. In addition, the majority (90%) predicted that, in five years, the role of software developer will continue to be important. More than half (56%) of respondents who graduated from college found a job within six months, and 35% were employed in less than three months. Salary and benefits ranked the highest in regard to factors of importance. The data is based on the responses of 1,000 individuals in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and France.

Courtesy of CloudBees

Going deeper

As remote and hybrid work continues, companies are trying to find new ways to support engagement. For example, Facebook launched the app Horizon Workrooms last month, which is a virtual reality (VR) collaborative meeting tool. Many companies are looking to make meetings more fun and exciting "by creating virtual worlds that resemble video-game environments or by using video games themselves as the meeting setting," according to a September 8 report in MIT Technology Review. Writer Tanya Basu explores different forms of VR companies like startup Kumospace are using.

Leaderboard

Alastair Borthwick was named CFO at Bank of America, effective in the fourth quarter. Alastair has most recently served as president of global commercial banking for nine years. He was previously was co-head of global capital markets. Alastair joined the company in 2005 as head of global investment grade debt capital markets. He previously worked at Goldman Sachs where he spent 12 years.

Stephanie Peng was named CFO at Transcarent. Prior to joining the company, Peng served as the CFO for U.S. at Teladoc Health. Previously, she was senior vice president of finance at Livongo Health. Peng was also CFO at Vida Health, and chief accounting officer and freasurer at Upwork.

Overheard

"You should always be expecting a 10% correction. If you’re investing in equities, you should be prepared for that at any time."

—Morgan Stanley’s Chief Investment Officer Mike Wilson, as told to Yahoo Finance

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