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With Scott Orn

A Startup Podcast by Kruze Consulting

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Scott Orn

Scott Orn, CFA

Evan Meagher, Chief Financial Officer of CoreWeave, talks to Scott Orn about the economy and how it is affecting the venture capital market

Posted on: 03/26/2023

Evan Meagher

Evan Meagher

Chief Financial Officer - CoreWeave

Evan Meagher of CoreWeave - Podcast Summary

Evan Meagher, Chief Financial Officer of CoreWeave, as a wide-ranging discussion with Scott Orn about new technology, the current state of the economy, and how these changes are affecting the venture capital market.

Evan Meagher of CoreWeave - Podcast Transcript

Scott: Welcome to Founders and Friends Podcast. Before we get to our guest, special shout out to Kruze Consulting. We do all your startup accounting, startup taxes, and tons of consulting. We’re whatever comes up like financial models, budget to actuals, maybe some state registration, sales tax, VC due diligence support. Whatever comes up for your company, we’re there for you. Seven hundred and fifty clients strong now, $10 billion in capital raise by our clients, I can’t believe it, $2 billion this year. It’s been a crazy awesome year. So, check us out at kruzeconsulting.com and now onto our guest.
Singer: So, when your troubles are mountain in tax or accounting, you go the Kruze from Founders and Friends. It’s Kruze Consulting. Founders and Friends with your host, Scott Orn.
Scott: Welcome to Founders and Friends Podcast with Scott Own of Kruze Consulting. Today, my very special guest is Evan Meagher of CoreWeave. Welcome, Evan.
Evan: Hi. Thank you. Nice to be here.
Scott: It’s our annual podcast we do at the end of the year. I think we’ve done five of these, if I’m not mistaken.
Evan: I think this is eight.
Scott: No. Eight, really?
Evan: We did like a CFO round table at the early days of COVID and then I think we did-
Scott: That’s right. We did that one. That was good.
Evan: … 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22. That’s seven. Then one more was the CFO round.
Scott: Wow.
Evan: I believe I’m in the eight timers club.
Scott: The CFO roundtable was good because that was a really hairy time. I never want to go back to that. That was tough.
Evan: No one does. Actually, I just got this email from Boulder County Health saying the place where for two and a half years they’ve been doing COVID tests, they’re finally shutting that down. I was just commenting to my wife, “We can live here for 50 years.” I think we might. No matter what happens, I’m just going to drive past that and be like, “Oh, yeah, that’s where they did the COVID test when the world was ending.”
Scott: Yeah, I know. That was scary. It was a combination of the world’s ending. By the way, we shouldn’t make light of COVID because there’s a lot of people had a lot of suffering in that.
Evan: Oh, not making light at all. It was scary. It still is.
Scott: Yeah. Us, finance types, it was personal life horrible and professional life horrible.
Evan: It was crazy.
Scott: At the time, I think we had like 250 clients or something like that all needing help on that. It was miserable.
Evan: Yeah, and you guys did a lot of PPP stuff, right?
Scott: Totally, man. Totally. It was crazy.
Evan: You didn’t know how many of those clients were going to survive just because no one knew where the bottom was. It was crazy.
Scott: I didn’t know we were going to survive. It was a crazy time. By the way, everyone watching this on YouTube, you are a musician. Your guitar is prominently featured in the shot here. For those that don’t know, Evan, actually, made the Kruze Podcast theme song.
Evan: That’s correct.
Scott: Which still today, I get so many compliments on it.
Evan: Do you really?
Scott: People love that.
Evan: Oh, that makes me so happy.
Scott: Oh, yeah. I mean everyone does it with a wink. They know it’s like quirky and fun but I get a lot of positive feedback on that.
Evan: Oh, okay. Yeah, it’s not the Rolling Stones but it’s fun.
Scott: Hey, it’s good. People like it. So, you are in year two at a cool company, so we’ll talk about that just a little bit and then we were brainstorming some other interesting things. Maybe just do the quick intro and where you are today and all that stuff.
Evan: Sure. I’m the CFO at CoreWeave, which is one of the five largest GPU cloud providers in the US. We’re orders of magnitude smaller than the ones you’ve heard of, AWS, Azure, and GCP, but we’re growing like a weed. The growth has been really crazy. The team was 24, 25 when I joined two years ago. Now, it’s up over 70 and something like that and more to be added in the next 30 days. Yeah, basically, as our CTO once said on Bloomberg, he said, “We’re not here for your WordPress blog.” AWS is perfect for that, you don’t need us, but for super concentrated burst compute for BFX renderers, people in the entertainment industry for doing CGI type stuff or big AIML platforms, I don’t want to name check any of them, but there’s been a ton of AI platforms in the news lately doing texted image or natural language like writing. I’ll just say that some of those are being powered on CoreWeave because they’re super compute intensive and we have a great performance adjusted price compared to the big three.
Scott: That’s amazing. I mean you talk about being in the right spot as cool as it gets. As an Nvidia shareholder, I think about you all the time. I hope NVIDIA’s selling a lot of GPU’s to you.
Evan: Well, I can’t talk about anything that hasn’t been publicly disclosed, but if there’s a press release out there recently that we are going to be allocated some of the Hopper series, which are the H-100s, the next cutting edge.
Scott: Wow.
Evan: If you’re in the AIML industry, you got to have it. So, we’re installing those. These things are so powerful. There is a little bit of, “Is AIML going to end the world? Is it going to turn into Skynet?” But the stuff that people are generating out there is so cool. When I see what our customers do with our technology, I mean I certainly can’t take any credit for it, but it’s pretty darn cool.
Scott: It’s really cool. It’s really cool and just getting stronger, getting started I think really. So, it’s going to be awesome.
Evan: It feels like the internet in 1995. The next 20 years, this technology is going to take over the world.
Scott: I know. It’s really cool. So, we were thinking about things to talk about and there was a really good one, because both of our companies have grown quite a bit and we are just reminiscing and just the power of people and new hires and getting people in the right slots. You’ve had some new additions to your team recently that not only made your life easier but made the organization more effective. We’re just thinking about that. What’s been your experience on that?
Evan: Yeah, I mean I just feel like it’s funny because before CoreWeave, I was always in software and SaaS and whatever. That’s a business, an industry without physical assets. So, it was so easy to just be like, “Yeah, people are all that matters because we’re in a human capital-intensive industry. That’s how software gets written.” But what’s been interesting to me is my first gig in a physical asset intensive business since I was the CFO a meat company 10 years ago, people are every bit as important. Yes. If you don’t have H-100s, no amount of the right people or the right salespeople or the right finance people or the right engineers is going to make a difference because you just need access to those products. But the truth is you get allocated those products because you have the right people who wrote the software the right way. Certainly, in my team, I’ve been lucky over the course of my career to build some teams that I’m really proud of. The team at CoreWeave right now on the accounting side is awesome. There’s two sides of the house the way I think about it. I think we’ve talked about this in the past. My background, I’m not a big four guy. Although I don’t know if you did see that I completed a master’s in accounting this year. I don’t know if you knew that.
Scott: I didn’t know that. Good for you.
Evan: Yeah. Well, I started at Logical, it was encouraged by one of my mentors who was great, Jennifer Harris, former CFO of public company called Q2 Holdings down in Austin, Texas. She said if you want to be a CFO of a public company, which I would like to someday, it seems like a good gig, posh up your accounting bonafides. Because I come from investment banking, private equity, which is Yosemite Sam Accounting, the debits and credits. You don’t really think about that.
Scott: EBITDA Justin.
Evan: Exactly. Justin and EBITDA, cash and KPIs, baby. But US gap, we’ll leave that to the account. So, anyway, the first hire that I always make and it’s almost like right away because they only hire a CFO like me or VP Finance, whatever the title is. When you’ve gotten big enough that it’s probably time to move away from a Kruze, right?
Scott: Yeah.
Evan: You guys helped us out a ton-
Scott: Which we encourage.
Evan: Yeah, for sure.
Scott: When companies get too big for us, we want them to move in-house because it’s hairy and crazy and stressful. They need that.
Evan: We were like 31% of your email inbound.
Scott: Oh, my God. I’ll never get pass that. It was 10%, but it was 10%. I think at that time, we had 500 customers and you guys were over-indexing by 20 times.
Evan: Twenty X. Yeah, it’s stupid. So, sorry about that. That’s my bad, bud. Forty X.
Scott: It’s all good. All good.
Evan: Sorry about that.
Scott: Hey, it’s all good. No, that’s a great example of hey, if you were accounting for Kruze Consulting 10% of our email volume, then you need to bring this in house.
Evan: You got to bring it in house.
Scott: That’s our new task.
Evan: Exactly. Well, I will always be very thankful for the work that Kruze did for us. We got out of a home brood system into QuickBooks Online. That first big hire is the controller and I’ve got just an amazing one right now. She’s a killer. She took a company public. So, that’s the first force multiplier, because then I’m just like, “No, I don’t have to worry about the debits and credits. I know it’s under control. I know that she’ll write my coastal framework, she’ll get my policies and procedures up to par, she’ll write memos.” I was like, “Great.” So, she’s been fantastic. Name’s June, shout out to June. She’s a killer.
Scott: Right.
Evan: Then down the road, she needs help. She needs a staff or a senior and an accounting manager. She’s done a great job I think building out that team. The other side of the house is the strategic finance side of the house. As a CFO at a small company, you’re pulled in so many directions. HR rolls up to you as well, orobably have the big parts of risk. Even little administrative menial stuff like insurance, you got to do all that.
Scott: Totally, leases.
Evan: Yeah, exactly. Landlord negotiation, vendor negotiation.
Scott: Insurance is a really big deal. I spent a lot of time on insurance.
Evan: Yeah, it’s a pain in the neck.
Scott: It’s a lot of work.
Evan: Then on top of all of that, it’s like, “Oh, yeah and you might have to fundraise.” Because of the capital intensity of our business, we’re buying new hardware constantly. So, anyway, the next force multiplier on the other side, on the strategic finance side of the house is when I can hire an FP&A person because I hire a controller. She comes in and she just gets the accounting on lockdown, but all the stuff that I have this weird insecurity complex about, because I was in investment banking 20 years ago and I didn’t model that much then. So, I’ve always had this weird hang-up. One of my best friends, a successful entrepreneur, former banker, he’s seen some of the models that I’ve built and he’s like, “Your stuff is so hairy, it’s incredible. You have this weird inferiority complex.” But the truth is my working capital, my bouncing never bounces because I screw up the working capital. So, I have this weird hang-up.
Scott: Super engineered.
Evan: Oh, yeah. I mean some of the formulas are seven lines deep and that’s the fun part, but then actually getting the cash flow to the cash balance to some property, that’s a weakness for me. So, anyway, hire one of those, an FP&A guy or gal. When I joined there, they’re only hiring at a pain point. So, they only hire a CFO when it’s like, “Okay, the outsource accounting isn’t enough. We need to be more strategic in finance, bring it in-house.” But there’s still a gap of 12 to 18 months until I can justify bringing on an FP&A person and it’s like I’m holding my breath until we get bigger. We just did, because revenue growth has been fantastic. Our sales team’s been doing a great job. The metaphor that I use is being a CFO of a startup, whether it’s a series A or series B or series C, by the way, I’m the hero in the story. So, it’s like being George Washington at Valley Force. I just compared myself to one of the founding fathers. Let’s just own that and we’ll move on. But you’re running the continental army… I’m George Washington.
Scott: After saying your balance sheet doesn’t balance.
Evan: Yeah, yeah, exactly right. Well, I’m George Washington. Balance sheet does not balance and we might have to repudiate the debt. Sorry, we’re not really going to repudiate our debt. Just to be clear.
Scott: Hey, he had a retreat a couple times-
Evan: Yeah, exactly.
Scott: …. before he saved our country.
Evan: You’re at Valley Forge and it’s cold and you’re starving. You don’t have enough resources and you’re overmatched against the most powerful fighting force in the history of the world at the time. Then the second I get to hire an FP&A person where I can offload a bunch of the stuff that I’m just not as good at or don’t want to do. It’s basically someone says, “Hey, George, what if I gave you 20 M1 Abram tanks? Could you put those to use?” The answer’s like, “Yes, I could definitely use those. I could do anything I want.”
Scott: Well, also, you made the point about you’re more of a generalist or maybe more of an executive-
Evan: For sure.
Scott: … and the person that you bring in is really good at this stuff. It’s like a multiple factor improvement for everybody.
Evan: It makes me 10 times better as CFO. It makes our financial modeling 10 times better.
Scott: The board’s excited because projections always make sense but-
Evan: And just before taxes.
Scott: … you can also scrutinize them and all that stuff. Then there’s also just all this other administrative stuff you get done and also paying more attention to the accounting team. I’m totally with you. I’ve been at Kruze for almost eight years. Every year, we are able to hire one or two awesome operational people or executive team member. It’s amazing the jump you get. I also think there’s something to the clearing of your head, just being able to think a little bit more and not be in reaction mode all the time.
Evan: Exactly.
Scott: Inevitably, you find other stuff to fill up your day so it doesn’t maybe last as long as you’d like, but just getting like, “Oh, wow, I’m not thinking about a model 10 hours a week and budget actuals and all that stuff. I just get a report and it makes sense.”
Evan: It’s formatted.
Scott: It’s really good feeling.
Evan: Intelligent and it’s smart.
Scott: The board gets it five days earlier in the month than they used to because I’m not doing three things anymore. CEO’s happier because more predictability and all that stuff.
Evan: Yeah, 100%. Yeah.
Scott: Makes total sense.
Evan: I know you guys do that. You guys offer outsource CFO services. Honestly, I just wish that I had pushed harder. You have FP&A people, right?
Scott: We do. We have a lot now. We hired a lot of people. We also do budget actuals that are really… By the way, this is not a commercial for Kruze and something.
Evan: No, it’s not.
Scott: But I mean I’m like a kid on Christmas when I get the internal Kruze budget actuals, because to me, it’s like, “Oh, my gosh, we’re doing great here. Oh, we got to improve this here.”
Evan: How do we get better there? Yeah.
Scott: I had a feeling something wasn’t going right over there and now I can see it in the numbers. Also, I make this point on a lot of podcasts I record. Negative surprises are bad if you’re reporting to a board.
Evan: For sure.
Scott: Especially an order of magnitude negative surprises. So, the fastest way to catch those or easiest way to catch those is doing budget actuals every month, because the problem never gets so huge that it’s like you got to go tell the board about it.
Evan: Exactly.
Scott: You see it and then you fix it. If you’re not doing budget actuals and you’re just winging it and then you do a six-month, “Oh, well, how are we really doing here?”, it can be shocking how bad you’re doing.
Evan: Yeah, here was the plan and here’s reality and it’s like, “Ooh, why didn’t know about this?”
Scott: We thought we had 15 months of cash but we have seven months of cash now.
Evan: That’s a not a conversation you want to have.
Scott: We’re screwed. It’s the conversation that you get fired after.
Evan: Yeah, for sure.
Scott: It’s really that simple.
Evan: Getting better at forecasting is so key. If you’re only looking at historicals, you’re basically trying to drive a car looking only through the rear-view mirror. Then when you actually get someone who’s competent and more importantly has the bandwidth and passion for doing it, you just cleared all the mud off the windshield, and you can actually look out the front.
Scott: Totally. So, hey. It’s Scott Orn of Kruze Consulting, taking a quick pit stop to give some of the groups at Kruze a big shout-out. First up is our tax team, amazing. They can do your federal and state income tax returns, R&D tax credits, sales tax help. Anything you need for state registrations, they do it all. We’re so grateful for all their awesome work. Also, our finance team is doing amazing work now. They build financial models, budget actuals, and help your company navigate the VC due diligence process. I guess our tax team does that too on the tax side, but the finance team is doing great work. Then I think everyone knows our accounting team is pretty awesome but want to give them a shout-out too. Thanks, and back to the guest. There’s also a lot of benefits to hiring, because that analogy, you can see through the windshield and you can see where you’re going. You know exactly when you need to hire people. Especially if you’re a business, as it gets bigger, a lot of them get a little more predictable. We’re more predictable now because of just the size and the bulk. So, you could hire smartly. You’re not reactionary hiring all the time. That also allows you to constantly be building your pipeline or give the HR people time to look for the person you need instead of just trying to hope you get the right person. There’s a lot of benefits, like operational benefits.
Evan: I would say an HR person falls into that as well. Our HR person is fantastic and she’s straddling both HR generalist stuff and also, recruiting. Over time, that breaks down. The world makes specialists of us all as you get bigger in company size, but she’s a killer. The fact that I don’t worry about benefits, I’m just like, “You do that. Perfect.” She’s been amazing.
Scott: I love our HR team as well. What’s interesting, you made that point about the recruiting and HR, because one thing that’s going to be interesting with the economy slowing down and startups slowing down is in a weird way, it’s easier to split that up when you have a lot of recruiting volume.
Evan: Sure.
Scott: I’m interested to see what happens next year. I mean we’ve been very fortunate. We’ve been able to manage our recruiting but we’re still going to grow next year, but I genuinely don’t know how much we’re going to grow. It’s hard to have specialist recruiters if you don’t have enough volume. You know what I mean?
Evan: Yeah. I definitely feel like recruiters are always the first to get laid off in a downturn, because it’s like, “Well, we thought we were going to hire 170 people, we’re going to hire 15. We can just pay bounty.”
Scott: They do really well in the upturns.
Evan: See, that’s the thing though. They make bank during the upswings. Especially if you’re not financial in nature and you understand the cyclicality of financial markets, it’s just human nature to be like, “Okay, I make this much every year.” But here’s the thing. I’m not dissing recruiters. I’m just describing the world as it is. Not as I would like it to be. Unfortunately, when the ship comes under fire, you’re the first one that gets thrown overboard, because you just can’t justify having 12 recruiters.
Scott: It’s a highly cyclical life, but especially the ones that are good at it, we pay a lot of those bills. I see the $20,000 to $40,000 payments for one placement and you’re like, “Oh, my God.”
Evan: Yeah, I know. I’m in the wrong business.
Scott: Amazing. Yeah. I know.
Evan: Let me ask you a question. I’m curious, we can talk about this on the Operators Guild that we’re both member of, but a full stack recruiter, a good one. Let’s say not the Michael Jordan of full stack recruiting. How many roles do you feel on average a full stack recruiter can fill in a year? I’m just curious.
Scott: I have no idea. I’m totally the wrong person to ask.
Evan: I thought that’s a KPI you’d be plugged in on. All right.
Scott: I only know that. I click pay on our client’s recruiter bills and I see how big they are. I’m like, “I wish I had that job.”
Evan: Well, it’s easy math. Well, if we’re only going to hire five people this year, then you can afford to pay… A lot of those will come through referrals, because if you’re only hiring five, you’re probably not 500 people. Probably a small company. You might pay one bounty. The rest are referrals and then the other just inbound. That’s fine. I find that recruiting is free until 30. Then at 30, you start paying for it either because now if you’re 30, you’re probably hiring at least 10, maybe 15 people. You’ve outgrown your network paradoxically, even though the number of people in your company has grown. The strength of weak ties, it’s harder to just get referrals and you have to start paying.
Scott: You’re also hiring maybe a different mix, a few executive team members. Those are harder to find.
Evan: It’s tougher. So, after 30, you have to start paying whether through an in-house recruiter. You have the fix cost, but even if they don’t hire anyone or bounties, which all it takes is two and a half bounties, three bounties. It would’ve been cheaper to have a full-time recruiter.
Scott: Also, everyone focuses on the people you hired, but in my experience, there’s a lot of people you got to interview to get to that person you hire. It’s like a pipeline. It’s like anything else. There’s a pipeline.
Evan: It’s like a sales pipeline.
Scott: You got to talk to a lot of people and you have people who don’t want to work at your company because for whatever reason. They got something going on in their life or they found something else. Then you got people that do but aren’t quite qualified. I’m just thinking out loud here, but 2023, other changes like that. Okay. Market slows down, people slow down, companies slow down. I, actually, personally think the startup market’s going to rebound come summertime. Maybe even sooner, because I think it’s too depressed right now. I just think a lot of VCs are like triaging their existing portfolio. They’re not spending as much time on new stuff, and they’ll get bored of that pretty soon, because they’ll have triaged everybody. But what other things can you think of, unforeseen or unpredictable changes, anything you’re looking at?
Evan: I mean, if you’re prognosticating for 2023, there was good Operators Guild presentation that looked back and it’s like, “You know what? In hindsight, we think about 2001, 2002 or 2008, 2009 as being these long-sustained recessions.” By the way, I graduated twice with two degrees from ostensibly prestigious schools without a job. So, trust me, I remember the pain of those times. I’m not minimizing. They were very difficult psychologically. But if you actually look back, the average recession lasts between two and five quarters. Now, whether that trickles down to average Joe paycheck, that’s a totally different question. But I think that if you’re not in one of the areas where there is a secular contagion, crypto for example, yeah, it’s going to be business as usual by Q2. I don’t mean to sound like callous. Stop your whining. No, I mean people will lose their jobs. There will be human suffering, there will be a pullback, but the truth is that things rebound a lot quicker than people believe they do or perceive that they do.
Scott: I totally agree. I joined the Lighthouse in 2002 Venture Lending Fund.
Evan: I remember, you were early to the venture game.
Scott: My whole year, this is 2002 to 2003, was spent 90% of our partnership meetings were restructured. I mean it was miserable. That was two years after the bust. So, it does take a while, but one thing Silicon Valley is good at is triaging and then companies that don’t make it, don’t get more money, aren’t going to make it don’t get more money. They sell, they liquidate whatever, or they shut down. It’s the economy in a microcosm. They get redeployed into other exciting jobs or they maybe go to a bigger company or things like that. The cycle is self-healing in a way. I see it. At Kruze client base, it’s horrible. These people have busted their butt for years and they just can’t raise more money or can’t make it, but a lot of them have really good attitudes about it and were super supportive. We know how hard it is, but I fully expect a lot of those people to be at a new company or starting a new company in nine months. I’m telling you. I’ve seen it before. It’s just the nature of entrepreneurship. It’s the nature of startups. So, in a weird way, that’s the part of the market I fear the least for. It’s the bigger industries that have a lot of… Mortgage brokers maybe are in trouble or things like that. I don’t know, but the startup world’s going to be totally fine. Just valuations will be lower, what they should.
Evan: That’s right. It’s crazy.
Scott: It’s supposed to be a hard industry. Venture capital’s supposed to be really hard. We’ve been living way too high in the hog for years and now it’s going to be more block and tackling and how it should be personally. That’s what I think.
Evan: Yeah, I’m always loathed to be that rah, rah, sis, boom, bah Silicon Valley. Hey, geography. Breaking our arms, patting ourselves on the back of how innovative and disruptive we are and all that. But the truth is Silicon Valley leapfrogged what was previously the tech center of America, which is where I’m from, Boston, Massachusetts. Route 128 Industries, Wang and Digital and everything else.
Scott: Yeah, I know that. Yeah.
Evan: It did show in part that Mark Granovetter guy who was at Stanford, I don’t know if he’s still there, but it was an organizational behaviorist who wrote this great book called The Strength of Weak Ties. One of the conclusions was like one of the reasons Silicon Valley just leapfrogged aside from other structural factors like, “Oh, it just so happened that the semiconductor was invented down the road.”
Scott: Non-compete.
Evan: Is it they never had the non-compete? They were never super siloed. There was just such greater human capital mobility. Like you said, it’s a self-healing thing. By the way, I don’t want to mean there will be human suffering when companies go out of business. I don’t mean to minimize that, but it is a really resilient ecosystem. Also, just structurally, over the last 10 years, the venture capital and private equity industry is 50 times the size that it was when you and I were in college. So, there’s so much dry powder sitting on the sidelines. Those people, it will be traumatic if their company fails. One of the things I love about Silicon Valley is a lot of things I hate about it, but you have that mentality of you swing hard just in case you hit something. If you strike out, you just sit down, wait for your turn, and you come right back up and swing hard. Just like give me another one.
Scott: That’s a good analogy.
Evan: Give me another at back.
Scott: There is a lot of money on the sidelines and there’s a lot of money in funds. This will be interesting. When the rebound happens, will it be tech hub centric like New York or Bay Area, Boston, that thing, or will it be more distributed? I can see it being more distributed. Well, where are you at, right? You’re at Colorado.
Evan: Colorado.
Scott: Yeah. Well, that’s a little bit of a tech hub.
Evan: It’s a small hub but it’s legit.
Scott: Yeah, it’s super legit. But I’m just saying, I have access to all these stats around where the employee bases of all of our clients are and they’re all over. I just think that’ll be the thing that is different this time. Even the companies in this cycle that were really strong, mostly were founded in the Bay Area or New York or whatever, but then started hiring remotely or moved remotely when COVID happened. It’s pretty obvious. We were looking at some interesting data around… We couldn’t really get a correlation, but there’s a lot of successful companies that do have office space still. We were looking at our client base more than I would’ve thought. I would’ve thought more were remote, but I think I might be just thinking about how Kruze is structured and how we operate.
Evan: Well, I think the genie out of the bottle in terms of letting people work remotely. It turns out it works. It didn’t work 10 years ago. There wasn’t Zoom or Teams or whatever, God forbid, WebEx. It’s definitely genie’s out of the bottle. I guess I’m slightly optimistic that if we’re democratizing geographic distribution of VC dollars, which we are, 40 years ago, 95% of VC dollars went to the Bay Area and the rest went to Boston basically. Then that was slowly changing when I was doing private equity placements in 2003, 2004, 2005, whenever that was. I’m optimistic that we’re seeing venture guys invest in places that they never used to, Salt Lake, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, whatever. I’m optimistic that that will also come with it, 20 years ago even. Everyone who got VC dollars looked like they were a straight White or Asian guy who went to Cal, Stanford, Harvard or MIT. That’s it or maybe Princeton. Hopefully, the democratization of distribution of VC dollars geographically, hopefully, and I think there’s data that suggests that, also means it’s going to different demographics that historically were shut out from raising venture capital and swinging hard in there at bat.
Scott: Yeah, I see it in our seed stage series A companies for sure.
Evan: Good.
Scott: Totally diverse. Women, men, all over. That is a good thing too. I’ve, actually, told this story a bunch at Lighthouse or at Kruze, because when I joined Lighthouse in 2002, we had a big Boston office. It was old school Harvard Business School network. To their credit, they were very strong, but that was the VC industry.
Evan: Homogenous.
Scott: MIT and Harvard Business School.
Evan: 100%.
Scott: If you didn’t go there, you’re going to have a hard time getting in the industry. Cool, man. Well, what else is going on? What’s new? Any parting thoughts or any music gigs you got going on?
Evan: No, I can’t find a guitarist, if anyone knows a grungy garage-
Scott: Are you a bassist? What are you?
Evan: I got a bassist and a drummer. I sing and play harmonica. I don’t play guitar.
Scott: Oh, you don’t play guitar?
Evan: No. I mean I screw around with it for songwriting but I don’t play on stage. Yeah, if you find a guitarist, that’d be great.
Scott: In Boulder, Colorado. There’s got to be some guitarist in Boulder Colorado. Come on.
Evan: You would think. It’s a big jam band scene and that’s not exactly my vibe. There’s big Bluegrass Americana vibe. I haven’t found the grungy guitar, but I’ll find one. I’ll find one. Let’s see. I’ll give you parting thoughts. Real rapid fire. The AI thing that we talked about a little bit is pretty fascinating and I feel like it’s an existential threat to certain professions. It will automate a lot of our jobs. I think some of the AI engines are writing entry level software program or code caliber already. Obviously, it’s just finding templates online and just regurgitating it out, but the technology gets better and faster than we’re cognizant.
Scott: For sure. So, I’m excited about that, the GitHub Copilot stuff and things like that. Especially for someone who has always loved technology and software but can’t write it himself, I’m talking about myself, that’s really exciting and just being able to move faster. I mean it’s going to impact accounting. It’s going to impact finance too.
Evan: Impacts everything. Yeah. So, we’ll see how that goes.
Scott: We’ll put a pin in that one for next year because we’ll have a full year to look at ChatGPT and all that stuff. I mean I feel like I’ve contributed a decent amount to ChatGPT because I’m sure they’ve indexed all the Kruze accounting content on our website.
Evan: Oh, of course.
Scott: I’m waiting for my royalty check, ChatGPT.
Evan: Yeah, I’ll hold out for that.
Scott: Send it over.
Evan: I don’t know if it’s in 20 years or if it’s in 5 years or somewhere in between or even longer where maybe writing software is no longer the lucrative career it once was because it’s been automated. I don’t know. I don’t know what the answer is. You and I are just old enough that we might be safe. We might make just enough money to retire before our jobs get automated out of existence.
Scott: Kruze and CoreWeave really need to work.
Evan: Yeah, they really do. So, there’s that.
Scott: Or we’re working for an AI boss.
Evan: Exactly. Exactly. The last thing I would say, just other rapid fire closing thoughts, maybe you didn’t know this. I thought we talked about it, but usually, I just come on Founders and Friends as a friend. But I was the co-founder, I should say, of a batting cage in San Francisco, which ran for eight years. It’s Batter’s Box Mobile. It was the only commercial batting cage in the city for a while and that was a victim of COVID. So, shed a tear. But just a counterbalance, hopefully, I didn’t sound callous saying like, “Oh, yeah, it’ll all turn out fine.” Because I guarantee you, 2002 Evan Meagher, who was just getting started in his career and was un or underemployed for basically two years after graduating Stanford with two degrees. Come on. I thought I did everything right. So, 22-year-old Evan Meagher would hear 43-year-old Evan Meagher and be like, “Screw you, buddy. Of course, things are fine for you.” So, to counter bill that-
Scott: I mean I looked for a job for nine months. Lighthouse is the only offer I got. Thank God they gave me an offer. I even had given notice on my apartment and everything. I was out of an apartment. It is tough. These recessions are tough.
Evan: Yeah, they’re brutal.
Scott: I know we’re going on the optimistic side here, but I think it’s helpful, especially for younger people, to hear from people with a little more context that keep focusing on doing a good job. Find opportunity. Even if it’s not perfect, get in there and keep building your career, because good things happen, especially working with good people. At the time, 2002 was gnarly, but I remember meeting with LinkedIn in probably 2003 when they were five people.
Evan: Wow.
Scott: I met with Friendster and LinkedIn a month apart. This is interesting. You can see your friends online. So, the stuff happens. The AI is something everyone can look at, but there’s probably three other mega trends that are just in their very, very infancy right now like that Friendster, LinkedIn thing. I mean I still remember begging LinkedIn to take our money. Please take our money, please take our money. I’ll do anything because I could see what was happening. It made total sense. So, if you can, find something like that, get in. Even if you’re making coffee and delivering, printing stuff out, just get in a job, build your career, create a track record. Good things happen.
Evan: Yeah, just hang around the hoop. I mean I gave a couple guest lectures up at the CSU College of Business on finance or whatever. I always end with, “Look, I graduated twice with two degrees and no job, and it really left a scar on me.” So, I don’t know you from Adam, but if you are looking for a job, I will try to help you just so someone else doesn’t have to go through the two years of misery and imposter syndrome and self-questioning and everything else. So, if you’re on the Operators Guild, the emails, I forwarded six resumes yesterday. People are looking for jobs.
Scott: That’s awesome.
Evan: If I can help anyone avoid that.
Scott: I’ve got to set for the summary notification. I’m not getting. It’s a little too much.
Evan: I do individual emails. I get them all. Yeah, on that note, in the terms of pain of recession, COVID wiped out Batter’s Box SF, which was down. Most beautiful batting cage in America. It was literally-
Scott: Sorry, man.
Evan: … you walk outside. You looked out at the Golden Gate Bridge in the Presidio. I would say the pain is real of losing a business. I’ll tell you, we had to wind it down in January. We made it through all eight years of our lease. We had two four-year leases. Because we had been on deferred rent from our landlord, we owed them what amounted to two and a half years of our highest EBITDA year ever. COVID wasn’t over. They were like, “Look, sorry, we’re not going to renew you.” So yeah, the pain of shutting down a business is really tough. I would say based on that; it was really challenging. I definitely shed a few tears, but what I learned in other setbacks and other recessions was contrary to popular misconception, you actually can keep a good man down. You can keep him down for a long time, but you can’t do it forever. So, it’s so corny and cheesy and it sounds like something that an out of touch 43-year-old would say, where his career has gone with knock wood, a little bit of some positivity lately. You just got to stick to it and hang around the hoop, because you can’t keep a good man down forever or woman. So, that’s my parting optimism.
Scott: Totally agree. Everyone is always looking for talented people who care, including Kruze. So, if you’re that person, hit us up. We’re still hiring.
Evan: Right on, man.
Scott: All right, man. Thank you so much for coming by. I really appreciate it.
Evan: Pleasure as always, brother. All right. Take it easy.
Singer: So, when your troubles are mountain in tax or accounting, you go the Kruze from Founders and Friends. It’s Kruze Consulting. Founders and Friends with your host, Scott Orn.

Kruze Consulting is regularly reviewed as one of the preeminent providers of finance, accounting, tax and HR services to high-growth companies. For our offices in San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica, New York and now Austin, TX, our experienced team serves venture and seed backed companies in diverse industries from SaaS to biotech to hardware to eCommerce.

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