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After his company was spun off from IBM, this CFO had to attract a new set of investors

June 15, 2022, 10:38 AM UTC

Good morning,

Kyndryl CFO David Wyshner has spent the last six months working to attract new investors to the IBM spin-off company. But, when it comes to the current macro environment, as the largest provider of IT infrastructure services, Kyndryl has “natural insulation,” he told me.

“Everyone prefers a better, stronger economy,” Wyshner explains. “But in the scheme of things, if there are some economic pressures, I think there is some natural insulation that we have as a provider of essential services.” About half of Knydryl’s clients are financial institutions, with “half of our revenues [coming from them] in one form or another,” he says. 

“They can’t wake up and say, ‘Well, I’m only going to have infrastructure four days out of five,’” Wyshner says. “That’s not an option. So, I think we’re protected there.”

Cybersecurity is one of Knydryl’s six practices, he says. “But the nature of cybersecurity runs through just about everything that we do,” he explains. “We certainly don’t see a recession in cybersecurity and cyber resiliency coming up. That’s an area where folks have growing needs, partly because of some of the things going on in the world.”

Kyndryl, IBM’s previously managed IT services business, was officially spun off from the tech giant in November, making it a public company trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker KD. It has $19 billion in annual revenue and delivers advisory, implementation and managed services to more than 4,000 global customers, including 75% of the Fortune 100, according to the company. But as it emerged from underneath IBM’s umbrella, the company had to attract new investors.

“As we became a public company without the benefit of an IPO, how do we start to tell our story to investors?” says Wyshner. He joined the technology services company as CFO in September.

Wyshner has been working on cultivating an investor base “in what has been a pretty difficult market environment, both in general and for technology stocks over the last six months,” he says. Along with Kyndryl CEO Martin J. Schroeter, “I’ve been spending a fair amount of my time meeting with investors.”

Wyshner actually started his career at Merrill Lynch more than 30 years ago in investment banking. The experience has “absolutely helped to understand how markets think,” he says. In the past 20 years, Kyndryl’s spinoff from IBM is “actually the sixth one that I’ve been involved in one way or another,” he says. That includes leading Wyndham Worldwide’s separation into one privately acquired business and two public companies as CFO.

“The cocktail party fact is that we run about half the mainframes on the planet,” Wyshner told me. “We serve large companies, large organizations, operating what we call their ‘hearts and lungs,’ their infrastructure, and operating mission-critical systems for them.”

What kind of investors is the company seeking to attract? “People with a focus on technology; people who invest in peer companies,” Wyshner says. “We are a member of the S&P 400, so folks with more of a mid-cap focus. Given how our stock was expected to trade and has traded value investors—people with a longer-term horizon.” And getting investors “isn’t a once and done; it’s an ever-evolving exercise,” he says.

Wyshner says that Kyndryl has “dramatically expanded our addressable market by no longer being an IBM captive and playing across a wider range of technologies,” he says. “Going forward, we’re going to serve IBM technologies,” but since the spinoff, the company has “signed up alliances” with Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud and AWS, among others, Wyshner says. “We see this as a path to return us to revenue growth,” he says. 

In its first quarter as a separate company, Kyndryl reported revenues of $4.4 billion, representing a year-over-year decline of 7%. Regarding contracts, “our average relationship is over ten years old,” Wyshner explains. “And as a result, the revenues that we will report for this quarter, most of the margin that we generate is really a result of contracts that were signed in 2018, 2019, and 2020, and pre-spin in 2021 when the business was declining, mid-single digits,” he says. “It’s not going to be for a few years until our revenues really reflect how we’re operating the business in 2022, 2023, and 2024.” Kyndryl’s past performance under IBM is not indicative of its future, he claims.

Kyndryl has about 90,000 employees worldwide. Most are from IBM. There have been 1,000 new hires since becoming a public company, Wyshner says. “We, in finance, have the reputation of ‘we’ve got beans to count and numbers to [put on a] spreadsheet,’” he says. “But the opportunity to be involved in really developing the culture as part of the new organization, I think, is phenomenal.”


See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada
sheryl.estrada@fortune.com

Upcoming event: Fortune’s inaugural in-person meeting of the CFO Collaborative, presented in partnership with Workday, will take place at Miller Union, Atlanta, on Wednesday, June 22, at 6:30 p.m. The featured speaker for the event will be Clint Watts, senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and NBC News National Security Contributor. Watts will share his expertise on cyberterrorism, social media influence and Russian disinformation. If you’re a CFO interested in attending, you can find the registration form here. For further information, please email CFOCollaborative@Fortune.com.

Big deal

Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a professional services firm, has released the latest edition of its global M&A Risk in Review report. The report finds that last year’s resurgence of M&A activity can be somewhat sustained, but perhaps not at the record levels seen in 2021. About 68% of dealmakers expect global M&A deal numbers to increase over the next 12 months; that includes 38% who anticipate an increase of more than 5%. As they seek opportunities and pursue digital transformation, dealmakers look forward to future transactions. This makes the outlook strong for M&A in sectors such as technology, media and telecom and in the Asia Pacific region, according to Aon. The findings are based on a survey of 50 senior executives from corporate development teams, private equity firms, and investment banks. About 40% of respondents were based in North America, 30% in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and 30% in the Asia Pacific region.  

Courtesy of Aon

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Leaderboard

Omar A. Haynes was named Interim CFO at XpresSpa Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: XSPA), a travel health and wellness company. XpresSpa announced the separation of service of James A. Berry, effective June 13. Berry joined the company as CFO in December 2020. The company will conduct an executive search to fill the position permanently. Haynes joined XpresSpa as associate director of finance in March 2017, served as director of finance, analytics and treasury from January 2019 to June 2020, and then treasurer and senior director of finance from June 2020 to May 2021. Previously, he was an associate at Alvarez & Marsal and Conway, Del Genio, Gries & Co. 

John McCauley was named CFO at Calendly, a scheduling automation platform. McCauley brings nearly two decades of B2B financial and strategic experience to his new role. Prior to joining Calendly, McCauley was the CFO of Seismic, a global sales enablement company. Previously, he held senior financial strategy positions at Illumina and ServiceNow. He began his career in assurance services at Ernst & Young.

Overheard

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