“I think 2023 is definitely going to be about payments efficiency and acceptance rates and optimization for the bottom line,” Céline Dufétel of Checkout.com, a London-based online payments company, told me.
Dufétel was promoted from CFO to president of the company last week; she’ll retain her COO function. She is based in New York and leading the expansion into the U.S. to become a disruptor of legacy systems in the payments industry. Checkout.com plans to take on fintech competitors like Stripe. But meeting a challenge isn’t something new to Dufétel. While studying applied mathematics, economics, and finance at the École Polytechnique in Palaiseau, France, she served in the French navy and was the only woman serving on a 200-person oil tanker.
Some of Checkout.com’s global customers include Sony, Alibaba, and the crypto exchange company Binance. In the U.S., Checkout.com has launched a partnership with GE HealthCare to standardize its global payments. Through a single API integration, the company can accept payments across all of its key markets, offering the local payment methods, according to Checkout.com.
GE HealthCare is an independent company following its recent spin-off from General Electric. “The digital layer is becoming more and more important in our industry,” GE HealthCare CFO Helmut Zodl told me in December.
Dufétel, who joined Checkout.com in August 2021, will keep the COO responsibilities under her umbrella, including all operational and go-to-market teams (like finance and marketing). While in her previous post—as COO and CFO of T. Rowe Price—she earned a spot on Fortune’s 2020 40 Under 40 list. Nirupam Sinha, SVP of corporate finance and strategy at Checkout.com, was promoted to CFO. Sinha, joined the company in November 2021, also coming from T. Rowe Price.
But fintechs have cooled off somewhat, at least in the eyes of investors. In early 2022, Checkout.com announced it raised $1 billion in its Series D funding round at a valuation of $40 billion. By the end of the year, the company reduced its internal tax valuation to around $11 billion. Similarly, Stripe, which was valued by private investors at $95 billion in 2021, cut the internal value of its shares by 28% in July.
“When you compare us to Stripe, the common point is both provide end-to-end proprietary technology, where you’ve got direct integration into local payment methods, as opposed to legacy incumbents that have been cobbled together through M&A,” Dufétel explains. And that has “created a very disjointed experience for merchants,” she says. But that’s where the similarities end, as Checkout.com is focused on enterprise merchants, and “Stripe has its roots in the SMB [small and midsize business] world,” Dufétel says.
In this macroenvironment, Checkout.com is providing services “we really think a CFO or a chief product officer needs right now,” Dufétel says. An example? “We give you much more transparency into the fees and help you remediate any declines,” she explains. And the company engages with merchants to proactively help them optimize their payments, she says. “If you think about very sophisticated, large enterprise clients, that’s the kind of white-glove service that they’re looking for,” Dufétel says.
Payment services provider Stripe is being watched closely at the moment. It’s reportedly in talks to raise new funding at a steep discount from its last valuation, Fortune reported. However, leadership change is on the horizon. Dhivya Suryadevara, CFO at Stripe since 2020, announced Feb. 2 in a LinkedIn post that she will step away from her role at the company to attend to family matters. As is the case with many tech companies, Stripe announced a round of layoffs in November, about 14% of its workforce.
Checkout.com has been building the marketing, sales, and customer success teams in the New York office, Dufétel says. Along with Dufétel, part of the finance, legal, and HR teams are also represented. “It takes time to hire and to train people, so it’s part of the multi-year effort,” she says.
In her new role, Dufétel is looking forward to continuing to drive growth for Checkout.com. She no longer wears a CFO hat, but her finance know-how is a mainstay.
See you tomorrow.
Paychex, which provides HR and payroll solutions, surveyed 825 employees and found that 80% regretted leaving their job during the Great Resignation. A separate survey of 354 gauged how employers feel about rehiring job-hoppers. Forty-three percent of respondents said they're willing to rehire employees who left during the Great Resignation, 30% said they wouldn't rehire employees, and 27% said they already have, according to the report. The top benefit returning employees received was remote work, followed by flexible scheduling and bonus incentives.
"Too Many Managers: The Strategic Use of Titles to Avoid Overtime Payments," a new report released by the National Bureau of Economic Research noted that companies frequently give employees managerial titles to avoid paying overtime wages. For example, managerial positions such as "directors of first impression,” whose jobs are equal to non-managerial employees, and in this case, a front desk assistant, according to researchers from Harvard and the University of Texas.
Leigh Burnside was named CFO at Little Caesars, a global family-owned pizza chain. Burnside joins Little Caesars with 30 years of experience in the accounting and finance industry. Most recently, she served as SVP, chief accounting officer, and CFO U.S. at The Wendy's Company. Burnside will replace outgoing CFO Darrell Snygg, who recently retired after 34 years at the company. Burnside will work with the newly named SVP of accounting, Allison Bieri. Little Caesars will also add several new leadership roles in finance and accounting, as well as across the organization, to support recent international and domestic growth.
Jason Godley was named CFO at Xactly, a provider of cloud-based, incentive compensation software. Godley brings over 25 years of financial industry experience to his new role. Godley most recently served as president and CFO at Booster and previously served as the CFO of both IO Data Centers (acquired by Iron Mountain) and Fastaff Travel Nursing. He has also spent time as an investment banker at Citi and Jefferies, where he advised software and enterprise technology companies on capital markets and M&A transactions.
"I’m worried about me, too."
—Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, Tesla, and Twitter, wrote in response to a Twitter user on Sunday who told him to take care of himself. Musk is starting to show signs of wear and tear from running three major companies simultaneously. Musk, whom a jury just found not liable for damages over his “funding secured” tweet, said on Twitter that the last three months had been extremely challenging, Fortune reported.
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