CFOs from Airbnb, Aon, Masterclass, Midjourney, and Step joined us to share their strategies for weathering economic uncertainty—from creating new lines of business to improving access to data. Learn how to automate manual back-office work to both grow your business and cut costs, and find out how CFOs are experimenting with AI capabilities across multiple teams.
Dave Stephenson, CFO and Head of Employee Experience, Airbnb
Horacio Diaz Adda, CFO, Step
Nadia Ali, CFO, Midjourney
Valen Tong, CFO, Masterclass
CHRISTA DAVIES: Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us here today. My name’s Christa Davies, and I’m the CFO of Aon and on the board of directors at Stripe, and I am delighted to welcome four fantastic CFOs here today to engage in a fantastic dialogue. Please welcome to the stage Nadia, Horacio, Valen, and Dave.
CHRISTA DAVIES: Thank you so much for joining me. And before we get started, I’d love for each of you to just briefly introduce yourselves.
NADIA ALI: I’m Nadia Ali. I’m CFO at Midjourney. We are a generative AI company for images. I’m responsible for accounting, finance, and HR.
HORACIO DIAZ: I’m Horacio Diaz, the finance lead at Step. We’re a financial platform focused on Gen Z. I oversee finance and work closely with our partnerships team.
VALEN TONG: My name is Valen. I’m the CFO at MasterClass. For those who don’t know us, we are a streaming platform where you can learn from the best. At the company I oversee several functions, including business operation, strategy, data insights analytics, in addition to finance accounting. I’m really delighted to be here.
DAVE STEPHENSON: And my name is Dave Stephenson. I’m the CFO and head of employee experience at Airbnb.
CHRISTA DAVIES: Well, thank you so much. And before we jump into the serious questions, I thought we’d start with the lighthearted question of: What did you want to be when you grew up? Like what was your dream job as a kid? Nadia?
NADIA ALI: So I am South Asian, so my parents told me I wanted to be a doctor.
NADIA ALI: It took me a, you know, it took me a while, and I figured out it was going to take, it was going to take too long, so I crushed their dreams. And I have three kids of my own now, so I’ve told them that they want to be doctors.
HORACIO DIAZ: I guess for me it’s very fitting. The first job I thought I wanted to follow was accounting. And the reason for that is my mom had a small business, and her accountant showed up with, like, a TI83 or TI89, and I was, like, I want to be able to use that. And then I moved on, economics, et cetera, and a few different things and accidentally landed in finance, which is where I’m at now.
VALEN TONG: Yeah, so for me, I was born in China, where both my parents actually are teachers. And back then they didn’t really have a choice to choose their own career, and they had a great passion for teaching, and they loved their students.
And my father in particular is very good at telling stories. He can transform pretty much anything, anything that’s really boring into something totally fascinating. So for a very long time I thought I wanted to be like him. And, frankly, that’s actually one of the reasons why I decided to join my current company, as learning and education is something which is really close to my heart.
DAVE STEPHENSON: That’s great. Well, I grew up in Western Montana. And I didn’t know what a CFO was, let alone had ever met one. So when I grew up, I liked houses, and I wanted to be an architect, so I ended up far away from my dream, I guess.
CHRISTA DAVIES: But kind of similar to Airbnb, Dave.
DAVE STEPHENSON: Yeah.
CHRISTA DAVIES: So I think we’ve got four CFOs and now five who did not start out life wanting to be a CFO. I grew up thinking I might want to be a lawyer and then an engineer. I actually did study aerospace engineering, and I loved it. And I think finance is actually just an easier version of engineering math, and so it kind of fits.
But maybe moving on to the more serious questions on just the economy today, the pandemic, inflation, rising interest rates, the SVB crisis, so much going on in the global economy that it affects every single company.
And so I’d just love to get the kind of feedback from the panel on how it’s affecting each of your companies and what you’re driving in terms of your finance organization to actually help drive efficiency, drive growth, and manage and navigate it.
I’ll say at Aon, we’re in a hundred countries. We operate in every sector of the global economy, small, medium, and large. And we’ve definitely seen some uncertainty. We saw it first in the US, and now I’d say in Continental Europe in the UK. So we’re about six months behind. And the great news I would say for us is we’re advising companies on managing risk, and so the more uncertainty, the more actually the need for our services goes up.
But, look, I’d love to hear from the panel on just, you know, what you’re finding in terms of just navigating the economy. And, maybe, Dave, starting with you, because, I mean, COVID and what it did to Airbnb, I mean, I’d love to hear how you navigated that.
DAVE STEPHENSON: Yeah, it has been quite a challenge. I never thought I’d be the CFO of a travel company in the midst of a global pandemic, and it was just, it was crazy because we lost 80% of our business in the span of about six weeks, and we were just in kind of survival mode in that summer of 2020.
And so one of the big challenges we had was to really right-size and organize the company for growth and success in the long term, but we didn’t know when that long term was going to be, and so we actually had to lay off 25% of the workforce. We had 1,800 people that we had to let go in 2020 and then really just get back to the roots and core of what made us unique and different.
And we adjusted from being a divisional organization to functional and just got a lot of religion around operating rigor and efficiency and how critical that was. And so that helped us navigate the COVID crisis, but it’s also served us well since, because even as our business has rebounded and had great success coming out of COVID, we have been very rigorous in how we operate the company.
We’ve, you know, we’re growing in the mid-single digits in terms of headcount. We’re being very thoughtful in everything from cost of payments to infrastructure costs to everything we do so that we can, we’re not getting out of our skis again, which is I think a little bit what we might have done pre-COVID.
So I just think having that operating rigor in both good times and bad serves us really well.
CHRISTA DAVIES: Well, as they say, never waste a crisis. And maybe speaking of crisis, the SVB crisis, Nadia, I know that, you know, they were one of your banking partners. And having to navigate through that, I’d love to hear your perspective on that journey.
NADIA ALI: Sure. So we had just moved our excess cash into SVB the month before the crisis, and luckily we had operating cash in another bank, but we went back, and the day of had to rerun all our plan and make sure that we were still going to be able to operate.
I was pretty confident that we would see a majority of those funds, but the timing, you know, was quite unclear. So I think it’s caused us to revisit all areas of the company to make sure that we are not reliant on, you know, one vendor, one supplier, one bank.
And we’re a young company. We’re a year in, and so usually you’re moving so fast. So these are not things that you’re as concerned about. You’re just concerned about growth and putting out giant fires every day. So definitely things like the pandemic, the SVB crisis, it’s changed the way we just look and evaluate risk for the company.
CHRISTA DAVIES: So many risks we’re thinking about today that we weren’t, you know, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months. I mean, I think the credit risk will continue as the banking, you know, situation unfolds, and maybe supply chain, as you said, Nadia, I think that’s just a—you know, an even more sort of top-of-mind risk.
But, Horacio, maybe just over to you on just how you’re navigating this uncertain environment in the finance organization.
HORACIO DIAZ: Yeah, I think, you know, for us, similarly, the banking crisis, where fintech is something that we think a lot about, counterparty risk is something we probably never spent as much time as over the last two, three months, not just with our banking partners, but also other vendors across the business.
And in terms of uncertainty, I think similar to what Dave mentioned, you know, it’s forced us to really think about, you know, the core of our business focus and really deeply understanding what’s driving the business so we can focus on, invest, and double down on those things.
So that’s a critical role that, you know, the finance team in partnership with other teams across the company play with data, for example, help us understand all the indicators, what’s working, what’s not, where should we double down. That’s been, it’s key, because there is only so much we can do in a world where, given the uncertainty, we need to be thoughtful about the investments we make.
CHRISTA DAVIES: Yeah. I think for a lot of companies it makes them focus on the core, as you were saying, Dave, and it makes you sort of accelerate a lot of the strategies. And we’ve certainly found that at Aon. The, you know, uncertain environment has made us accelerate our Aon united strategy. It’s accelerated bringing together all of our operations, I think a little similar to what you described, Dave, in terms of operations and technology, and then rolling out scaled platforms because they’re just much more efficient, much higher quality, and allows us to innovate at scale. And so I think that’s, you know, that’s an important lesson I think in these things to actually sort of get back to your core niching.
And then maybe just sort of moving to the finance team itself and sort of talking about how to balance driving efficiency, which I think we’ve all sort of talked about, and sort of investing for growth, because it’s such a tough, you know, balance.
Maybe, Valen, do you want to talk about how you’re doing that at MasterClass?
VALEN TONG: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, I think, first of all, I think all the examples shared by everyone brought back so many memories, many of them actually quite painful because it involves choice. And when we’re thinking about, you know, the way how we think about is balancing costs and balancing costs and growth, it’s not mutually exclusive, right? Because when you think about it, if you can run your core operation as efficient as possible, you can actually generate additional runway to invest behind the biggest priority.
I think as, you know, Dave has said, it’s really focus on exactly what you most want to focus on and a bit later focus on implementing it. I think that’s sort of the main takeaway, you know, coming out of the COVID period.
CHRISTA DAVIES: Yeah.
VALEN TONG: Yeah.
CHRISTA DAVIES: And then maybe, Dave, just over to you on sort of, I understand you’ve really doubled down on partnering with the business to drive growth, and I’d love to hear how the finance team is enabling that.
DAVE STEPHENSON: Sure. Well, first of all, to echo your point, Valen, I think that it’s important that you do both; that it’s not really "or," and that the best way that you can grow is to be able to grow efficiently because if you actually aren’t efficient in your underlying kind of cost structure, then you’re not going to be successful in growing in the future. So I really don’t see it as an either/or.
You know, we’re solidly in growth mode, but I think when I joined Airbnb, we initially didn’t even have the finance team that could actually help enable the business to do growth as much as—they were more focused on kind of backend accounting, you know, budgeting, and just kind of the core basics.
And so one of the things that I did when I came in was bring some of the experience from Procter & Gamble, which I know you spent some time at, and Amazon, where you have finance leaders that are business partner leaders, too, and so they bring data and analytics to making strategic decisions. And so bringing a few more of those senior leaders kind of helps unlock growth in an efficient, effective way, and I think that’s really helped us grow as a company.
CHRISTA DAVIES: Yeah. And I think as we think about finance moving to that more strategic role, I think one of the other things that we often have to do is educate the business on how to play that role as well.
And I think, Horacio, you’ve done an amazing job it sounds at Step on actually educating and having the finance organization educate and communicate in some pretty innovative ways.
HORACIO DIAZ: Yeah. I think for us it’s been really important to spend a lot of time with the business, sharing what drives the business, how our units work, like our customer units, our transaction units, and what drives that.
And it’s critical because, you know, we’re a small team and moving really fast. People are making decisions every day that can have a very large impact on the outcomes of the business. So making sure everyone has a deep context on what drives the financials of the company has been really important.
So we do that in many different ways. Like we have, we’ve ran an LTV to CAC seminar with our production engineering teams, where we, you know, talk through the customer unit and what drives that and what are things that we could be exploring or thinking about.
And then more broadly, given the sort of the uncertainty in our sector of sort of transparency about the trajectory of the business, it’s been really important. So, you know, I give a monthly, sometimes every couple of months updates to the entire company on the financials of the business. And, you know, some of the financials can be a little bit dry. So, you know, one day I kind of took it a step further. I added some emojis to the presentation to, you know, share with the team how I feel about certain numbers. Like it’s going in this way, and I feel great, or, actually, I don’t feel that good. And maybe the numbers don’t tell the whole story because sometimes the trajectory, it’s important.
So that’s been something that I’ve gotten great feedback across the company. So it gives people a perspective not just what the numbers are, but, like, how concerned should I be and how much time should I be spending on this versus this, which sometimes, you know, if you’re just hearing the numbers can be a bit dry.
CHRISTA DAVIES: I love the emoji example because it visually represents how to interpret, and sometimes how to interpret results is the most important thing, and people can miss it. And I think you’ve actually made it visual and super easy and something everyone uses every day. It’s very cool.
And maybe just coming back to the point, Valen, you made earlier on just driving efficiency and investments, because I think that’s actually such an important thing. Are you thinking differently about investments in this macro-uncertain environment today versus, say, two or three years ago, and are you approaching it differently?
VALEN TONG: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think we all learned a lot over the past, you know, three years. And as we’re thinking about just even as a finance function how we approach, you know, for example, scenario planning and the financial planning is very different.
And let me give you an example. So, you know, I think, you know, one of my own personal learning is we need to make the planning process to work for us and not against us. And a lot of times, you know, I felt like the financial planning is like a never ending chore. I just said that out loud. And we can use the planning process to actually drive strategic discussion.
And I’m actually a big advocate in terms of getting the financial planning process down to six weeks. But I think my point is actually not only about speed, it’s actually about how we allocate our time. And personally I have this, you know, sort of rule of, you know, 50/40/10. So what I mean by that is, you know, I always try to push my team to spend, you know, more than 50% of the time actually focusing on discussing and debating the strategic direction for the company, right, and really flesh out what is really important. What is it that we can live without?
And then you spend 40% of the time actually just, you know, getting the rest of the stuff done, right? The opening plan, you know, the ahead of location, and the stuff that people are always getting, like, really upset or, you know, getting energy from it.
But more importantly, you also want to allocate, you know, 10% if not more of the time actually communicating to the rest of the company, because what I find is a lot of time people are understanding the what, but they don’t necessarily understand the why and how to do it.
And I think that becomes even more important as we sort of navigate through this hybrid environment, because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how good the strategy, how good the plan is, you have to implement through people. And I think, you know, having this kind of more flexible framework has really allowed us to have—you know, having a better choice when it comes to investment as well as the efficiency measurement.
CHRISTA DAVIES: That’s terrific. Because I do think in times of uncertainty, actually, you’ve got to communicate a lot more because people need to hear the same messages over and over to really reinforce them. And I think you and Horacio have really made that point well.
But maybe, Nadia, just to you. Are you thinking about investments differently today versus, you know, a year or two ago? You’re in such an unusual company too. It’s a different environment maybe.
NADIA ALI: Sure. So we’ve, you know, we’ve been around for a year. It’s not very long. And we are, our focus is just it’s on growth. Obviously, it’s, you know, it’s hard when you want to make the right decision, and so there’s some kind of risk tolerance that you’re always kind of toeing the line for that. But just keeping in mind what’s happened in the past few years, I think we’re leaning more conservative. We’re running lean. We’re, you know, we’re trying to extend runway, just all the usual, the usual stuff.
CHRISTA DAVIES: Yeah. So then maybe just turning to technology, thinking about you, Nadia, and how we’re all using technology to actually drive efficiency in our business, drive effectiveness, and bring the organization together.
And maybe, Dave, do you want to talk about what you’re doing, you know, with technology across the finance organization?
DAVE STEPHENSON: Yeah. I mean, there are a number of areas that we’re working with technology too. I’m actually really excited about the future of AI. I hate to make this as AI, but I do think that automation of a lot of the backend processes that are so manual today in the next 12, 18, 24 months are going to be significantly transformed. And so we actually have a small team of people in the finance org that is specifically working on how do we automate or eliminate work and how do we use, it wouldn’t have to just be AI, but other tools in order to kind of automate some of those functionalities.
And we’re actually doing that outside of finance as well. Like what are the other areas of operations across the company that over the next 12, 18, 24 months may be transformed pretty substantially, so we just have this task force that’s specifically focused on that.
CHRISTA DAVIES: And, Dave, you automated and rationalized a lot of systems and technology prior to the IPO. Do you just want to talk about that story? Because it’s a fascinating one.
DAVE STEPHENSON: Yeah. I mean, if you actually kind of just step back and, all the preparation to be a public company, you just need to make sure that you figure out what all the right data is that you need to do to run as a public company.
And we had, like, 300 databases that we were operating off of. We didn’t have a single source of truth. We weren’t sure exactly what the core metrics were that we actually needed to be reporting on externally, let alone managing internally. And so we rationalized all of that leading up and ahead of COVID, which actually paid huge dividends because when we went from 300 different databases to 50 and you go from 100 metrics to the 20 core ones, when we actually were then in need of raising, like, $2 billion of debt in the depths of the crisis, we could clearly articulate what our business is doing, what we needed, why we needed it, and why they should be confident in actually giving us money and they’re going to get paid back.
So actually being prepared to be a public company, even though we—at that point we felt like it was going to be several years away, you know, made us successful in getting, you know, what we needed.
CHRISTA DAVIES: That’s terrific. And then, maybe, Horacio, just talk about sort of how you’re utilizing technology, and you’re educating your finance organization a lot on getting them up to speed in technology, which is a big part of actually enabling it.
HORACIO DIAZ: Yeah. I think, you know, going back to what Dave mentioned earlier on, I think if you think about what’s a key to success for a modern finance team is to really be able to understand the business and partner with the business, challenge them, and support them and empower them to drive growth and drive efficiencies. And for that you really need to understand the business at the deep, granular level.
So as I think about the finance team today maybe versus 10 years ago, data proficiency is something that’s quite different. You know, we went from maybe primarily operating just in Excel to operating in Excel and, you know, having access to hundreds of databases with the entire data of the entire business at our disposal.
So data literacy, being able to be self-sufficient, to really dive deep into business is something that I put a lot of emphasis on on our finance teams and I push them.
It’s also not just to drive growth and really understand the business and challenge and support teams to drive growth is important, in our case, we’re a fintech. For us it’s also very important for our accounting and financial reconciliation teams so we can work closely with engineering teams to share and provide input in what the systems need to look like to generate the data that we need to run our financial operations and to account for our revenues.
So to me that’s been a huge source of leverage and value in the teams to really dive into sort of data literacy and understanding the business from that perspective.
CHRISTA DAVIES: And I think we’re all trying to educate our finance teams in technology and get them up to speed. And did you do that yourself, Horacio, or did you get help, or how did you bring the program together?
HORACIO DIAZ: Yeah. I mean, it, I think if I go back to sort of the, my early finance days, which was at Stripe, I think we partnered very closely with the data science team there and sort of that sort of you could see certain folks in the team that didn’t feel as comfortable sort of working with data, they kind of didn’t have an arm and legs. Whenever they wanted to do something, they sort of felt stuck. And for folks that had that, the ability to, you know, write queries, access databases, et cetera, you know, could have deep impact on the business and sort of be quite independent.
So to me that was a turning point—this, this is something I want to invest. And most of it is something people can learn on the job. So partnering with people, with folks in data teams. Some people would take classes if maybe their starting point was further back. So different, it was different for different folks and teams, but mostly on the job. I think that’s something that, you know, now I’ve become fully comfortable with those tools, so I spend time with folks on the teams.
And I think, actually, artificial intelligence is something that’s going to have a massive impact on how easy it is to sort of onramp into these tools. We saw earlier today in the keynote the demo of sort of OpenAI or ChatGPT or LLMs, whatever it was, and Sigma at Stripe. So you just ask a question, and it gives you the answer. I think a few weeks ago there was a demo of code interpreter from OpenAI, where literally you just say, “Hey, like, build some graphs” or, like, “Tell me what’s interesting about this data,” and it just starts thinking about it.
So I think it’s actually going to make it a lot easier for people that are learning how to navigate and sort of manage large sets of data to get used to it.
CHRISTA DAVIES: That’s an inspirational role model leading it for the finance organization.
And maybe, Valen, you talked earlier about how you’ve transformed your finance organization from, you know, efficiency focused to a strategic partner. How has technology enabled you to do that?
VALEN TONG: Yeah. So, actually, just a couple months ago I did an AI training for my team. So there’s actually a lot of value tool to unpack, right, you know, for us and for the entire organization. And because at MasterClass I also oversee not only the finance function, but also the data insights analytics, and when you’re putting all that stuff together, it’s actually, you know, creating a lot of value.
So maybe, like, let me share some lessons we learned. You think about over the past three years, we have seen a massive, massive shift in terms of how people learn and how content is being consumed. And I think more than that, we also saw even more discrepancy between what people tell you versus what they’re actually doing.
So let me give you an example: So you talk to a consumer, and they will say, “I love eating broccoli.” But when you look at the data, what you’re seeing is they’re actually eating a lot of chocolate. And you’re looking at the data on the one hand and looking at the insight you just heard, you say, like, what’s going on? And a lot of time you discover what they’re actually telling you is that they love chocolate-coated broccoli. So still good for you, but it still has chocolate.
And I think what we learned is, as we navigate through so much uncertainty, people’s behavior keeps changing. And where you discover that discrepancy between behavior and data is where you should, you know, spend your time and energy analyzing because a lot lead, you know, lead to what the customer and consumer are actually really looking for.
And we also talked to a lot of people just like yourself sitting in the audience in terms of what’s really happening inside the company. And we had been hearing, you know, the soft skills are getting worse. People are actually getting worse at, you know, empathy, sympathy, and listening, and collaboration. And we also heard that, you know, leadership is expanding, has evolved, but our thinking has not really evolved.
And look at us sitting here, and we’re all looking for a holistic self. And so we share all of these insights with our teams on a regular basis, and I really help inform the product strategy and the growth strategy for the company.
And for example, last year we just launched a product called MasterClass at Work, really designed to tackle some of the leadership challenges we just talked about.
So I think, you know, sort of at the core of what we do, I think by leveraging data through technology and really listen to the customer, right, not at a superficial level, but at a deeper level allows you to put in the needs and the wants at the forefront of the growth strategy. I think that’s where we can unlock value.
CHRISTA DAVIES: That’s super cool. I’m learning a lot about how to educate my finance team on technology and AI. And I think we’ve heard AI come up several times, but now we’ve got to ask the expert here who’s living and breathing it every day.
Nadia, how are you utilizing AI to lead your finance team?
NADIA ALI: Sure. So this is quite embarrassing. We are an AI company, but we don’t use very much AI in finance and accounting yet.
We’re a small team. The company is 30 people, and the finance team is 4 people. So we wear a lot of hats. What we’re trying to do is work on just automation right now, so we’re not, you know, we’re not just throwing bodies at people at problems, but putting in processes that are just going to be automated. So we don’t want time spent on manual processes, reconciliations. We’re just looking for tools that are going to help us be most efficient. I think that AI in finance and accounting for these tasks has a lot of potential.
CHRISTA DAVIES: That’s amazing. And how about you, Dave? Are you using AI in Airbnb and finance at all?
DAVE STEPHENSON: Well, like you said, I think this, we don’t know all the different ways we’re doing it, but I was excited when I did see the demo earlier today where you could actually, you know, write SQL code for a query and, like, using natural language. I mean, that’s powerful. I think any of those kind of things are going to be extremely helpful for us, because then anyone can get insights out of the data we have, and you don’t need specialists.
CHRISTA DAVIES: Yeah. I think it’s a huge area of innovation, not just in finance, but in all back-office functions. And so at Aon I lead not just finance, but operations and technology, and we’re seeing the use of AI in customer-facing interactions with our clients, sort of documentation and question and answer coming back and forth.
We’re seeing it in compliance, where you’ve got to file a bunch of regulatory documents, and you can actually have all your policies and query the policies and really write the regulatory documents for you. And the same with all of our EY memos, you know, all those terrific accounting memos that no one really wants to write and where the accounting team is super excited about automating that this year.
So I think there’s a lot of opportunity to actually standardize and not just drive efficiency, but actually increase quality, because, you know, you sort of reduce the error, don’t you, if you can get it standardized correctly the first time.
And then maybe just sort of finishing with, you know, the sort of Stripe question on how is Stripe helping your business. And maybe, Horacio, just starting with you, sort of what’s going on with Step, and how are you using Stripe?
HORACIO DIAZ: Yeah. So we’re a very close partner with Stripe. Large parts of our business, we’re a fintech. We issue cards to our customers, have bank accounts for them, and sort of a lot of the fund flows that we have go through Stripe.
You know, one of the things that we’re, you know, very excited, and I’ve been very excited about, the potential impact on our business is Link, the demo we saw earlier today. And I believe Airbnb is now a customer, I think. For us one of the points of friction on opening an account for a teenager is actually getting that account funded by the family, and anything we can do to reduce friction on that is very important.
So being part of a network where, you know, the funding information for a large amount of people are saved and can reduce that friction, it’s very valuable. So we’re excited about, you know, large platforms and marketplaces like Airbnb being part of that because that makes it more valuable for us.
We’re still not using Link but hope that that’s something that’s coming down the line for us. I think it can be quite impactful.
CHRISTA DAVIES: Terrific. And then, Nadia, with a finance team of four, I’m imagining that, you know, you’re using Stripe a lot for not just the finance organization, but for the business. How is Midjourney using Stripe to help?
NADIA ALI: Right. So we leverage Stripe quite a lot. We, it allowed us to scale as fast as we have for just a, you know, functions. We’re using Billing. We use RevRec, Stripe Tax. I look at the Stripe Dashboard every morning. So it’s, you know, it’s taking kind of a lot of different, what would have been a lot of different sources and just bringing it all together.
We’re seeing a lot of just credit card fraud right now, so we are diving into all the Radar rules and try to, like, limit that. We find just setting different kind of rules there is helping a lot. So it takes a lot of the, you know, the pain out of having different sources for all of these functions for us.
CHRISTA DAVIES: That’s great. You’re using a lot of Stripe products there.
And maybe, Valen, over to you. How are you using Stripe at MasterClass across the business?
VALEN TONG: Yeah, sure. So we are an eight-year company, and we have been with Stripe pretty much from day one. And we started the business by launching Single Class. So more, like, you know, a commerce model. And then we evolved into a consumer subscription. And last year we entered the enterprise domain.
So Stripe really played a huge role to help us transition through multiple products, you know, over the years. And I would say there’s three things I, you know, personally and my team value the most from Stripe is, A) we don’t have to worry about, you know, not having the security as relates to credit card information, right? It’s a huge, huge worry from a lot of the teams. And that’s number one.
I think number two is not only Stripe really helped us handle the payment operation, but also gave us a lot of visibility into the trendline, right? And that really allows us to manage our, you know, cash management more efficiently.
And I think the last part I want to mention is that, you know, and we really appreciate is that Stripe—and it’s really brilliant to listen to our feedback. And whenever there is, you know, questions or any concerns, we are always working through together as a strategic partner. So I, you know, we personally really benefit a lot by working with Stripe.
CHRISTA DAVIES: That’s terrific. And then maybe sort of final question for each of you: Going back to the keynote with those Cauldron team, you know, waving their magic wand, if you had a magic wand, Dave, and you could change anything about finance and accounting, what would you do?
DAVE STEPHENSON: I would try to eliminate all kind of manual reconciliations. That would be the single thing I’d like to get rid of.
CHRISTA DAVIES: Terrific.
VALEN TONG: We should ask ChatGPT.
VALEN TONG: But same answer.
CHRISTA DAVIES: Wow.
HORACIO DIAZ: For me, I’d probably, this is very important, particularly in times of uncertainty, have rather than sort of monthly data and, you know, having to wait, you know, if you’re lucky, a few days; if you’re unlucky, a few weeks to get insights into what your financials are, I would love to have daily financial data, which we have—for a lot of our operational metrics, we get daily or by-the-hour metrics. It’d be fantastic if we could do that with financial data too. Particularly, it’s very relevant in times of uncertainty where you’re sort of making real-time decisions about what you can spend, how much you can spend, et cetera.
CHRISTA DAVIES: I agree. Nadia?
NADIA ALI: I think for me it would be making ERP implementations not so time and time like such a big time and expense commitment. I’ve done so many over the years, and there’s just, like it’s always just a pain.
CHRISTA DAVIES: Yeah.
NADIA ALI: It’s quite painful, yeah.
CHRISTA DAVIES: Yeah. I mean, mine is sort of similar to yours, Nadia, which is Aon grew up through acquisitions, so we don’t have one of everything. We’ve got hundreds of different systems. And having—my magic thing would be to have every single system talk to each other seamlessly so that you could get immediate insight and data to be able to make, you know, the right decisions for the business. And I think in a time of macroeconomic uncertainty, that’s even more important.
But, look, I just want to say thank you to each and every one of you on the panel. It’s been an absolute privilege, and we really appreciate having you all here today. So thank you.
NADIA ALI: Thank you.