Anyone vaguely familiar with the venture capital industry knows that down rounds are bad news. But what exactly are they, and why do they occur? What alternatives do founders have to avoid a down round? Toptal Finance Expert Natasha Ketabchi draws on her experience in the VC industry to run through the mechanics of a down round, its implications and effects, and concludes by offering some vital advice for founders and investors keen to avoid the dreaded down round.Continue reading →
Over the last few years, crowdfunding has imposed itself as a viable alternative financing route for small and medium-sized businesses globally. In this article, Toptal Finance Expert Bechara Kara runs through the market’s recent milestones, highlighting some of the shortcomings that can potentially threaten crowdfunding as a tool for democratizing finance, concluding with suggestions for a balanced approach in promoting its evolution.Continue reading →
With both expected to go public in 2019, we look at Lyft vs Uber and how they would be valued on the public markets. This analysis also comprises an overview of their respective business models, finances, and expansion strategies.Continue reading →
Revenue-based financing allows an entrepreneur to repay an investment over time, to retake ownership of their business, and give a capped return to investors. With founders increasingly rejecting the scale-at-all-costs mentality, this article investigates the math of revenue-based investing and whether in VC it is possible to play averages over home runs.Continue reading →
Over the last few decades, the role of the CFO has undergone a profound shift. The historical tasks of the finance function such as books and records, financial reporting, and statutory compliance continue to be important but are now taken for granted by CEOs. The CFO of today and tomorrow must be able to take financial data and use it to influence operational decision making and strategy. But how?
In this article, Toptal Finance Expert Paul Ainsworth draws on his experience over his 30+ year career as a CFO at large, multinational companies across different geographies to outline the changing role of the CFO and the necessary skillset required to fulfill the growing expectations.Continue reading →
While selling one’s company can seem like a daunting and difficult task, there exists a proven model and framework that drives valuation to maximum levels and leads to deals successfully getting done. This post is a guide for those contemplating a sale, as to what are the primary and secondary valuation drivers in a sale and how the process is conducted.Continue reading →
Overdue receivables are one of the most common and serious frustrations entrepreneurs face. The hidden costs can be staggering, from lost time dealing with the problem to the cost of hiring dedicated experts, to the serious and long term damage to a business’ reputation with its clients.
In this practical and comprehensive guide, Toptal Finance Expert Scott Hoover shows that overdue receivables are actually easily avoidable. Scott outlines six steps all businesses should take, which will make a material difference to accounts receivable and tackle any issues up-front.Continue reading →
The Python language has the functionality to consign many a VBA-filled spreadsheet, held together with sticky tape, to the recycle bin. Its ease of use and suitability for iterative development lends well to finance-based workflows. This article delves into this and provides a brief tutorial.Continue reading →
As a venture investor, Natasha Ketabchi spends most of her day evaluating tech startups as potential investments. In early-stage investments, Natasha finds that the three things that matter most are team, product, and sales and marketing approach—including their go to market strategy. In this article, Natasha lifts the veil on what venture investors look for in a solid GTM plan.Continue reading →
When does it make sense for a business to consider hiring a part-time CFO? Are there situations in which it doesn’t make sense at all? What attributes and criteria should businesses use to filter and select candidates? This article by Toptal Finance Expert Scott Hoover looks at answers to all three questions, and is intended to be a practical guide based on nearly a decade of experience as a freelance CFO for privately held companies.Continue reading →
Using the 2016 Wells Fargo Banking Scandal as an example, this article dissects the situation according to the principles of the three classic ethical theorists: Plato, Kant, and Mill. It then offers some suggestions on how to improve ethics in business.Continue reading →
Pricing strategy is one of the most important functions that any business engages in. Prices are a foundational element of a company’s revenues—If managed carefully, they can generate high profits and consequently cash. But setting prices appropriately is tricky, and when mistakes are made, companies suffer.
In this article, Toptal Finance Expert Dalibor Pajic draws on his 15+ year career in corporate finance to outline seven practical examples of when pricing strategy plays a crucial role, with the aim of illustrating how pricing decisions can be approached in different situations. PendingContinue reading →
Consultants often struggle to find new, solid clients. We asked Steve Blank, the founder of the Lean Startup movement (and someone who has helped hundreds of companies get a better product to market faster and worked with dozens of consultants along the way) how consultants can attract clients.
Steve’s advice is a bit counter-intuitive. But it’s something that Toptal’s best consultants have already been doing for years.Continue reading →
With today’s rapid pace of technological progress, organizational change is perhaps more necessary than it ever has been. But change is hard. Countless studies show that more often than not, corporations fail to implement change successfully, losing money, time, and employee morale in the process.
Based on his 20+ years of international finance experience across a range of industries, and over a decade of experience as a CFO, Toptal Finance Expert Edwin Petersen outlines his thoughts on why change management often fails and how to get it right.Continue reading →
Burn rate is one of the simplest, yet most fundamental metrics that investors and startups focus on. It pertains to the total cash spend of the business per month, which demonstrates both growth progress and potential runway that the business has to survive. This article introduces the burn rate concept and the tactics that can be applied to optimize it.Continue reading →
It is quite common for financial reports to fall short of executives’ expectations. Accounting teams tend to focus on doing things the “right way” rather than asking readers of the financial statements what they want to see.
In this article, Toptal Finance Expert Scott Hoover runs through an often overlooked way of solving this situation: the chart of accounts. A well-structured chart of accounts is often the single best and most effective way to raise the financial reporting of an organization to the next level.Continue reading →
Rewards programs and sales incentive schemes are necessary for any business that operates outbound customer acquisition channels. They encourage certain behavior and that, if poorly constructed, can lead to perverse results and conflicting interests. Creating a holistic plan that stimulates positive company-wide behavior is an art that has huge benefits.Continue reading →
Startup investors are not benevolent creatures, they’re looking for certain signals that help to persuade them to part with their money. This guide, written from an investor’s perspective, intends to help startups understand the key areas to focus on and emphasize when raising money.Continue reading →
We often hear about business plans in the context of early-stage companies; however, constructing excellent business plans is difficult and time-consuming, so many entrepreneurs avoid them. But, is this a mistake?
While most people may be aware of the “soft” arguments for and against writing a business plan, in this article, a Toptal Finance Expert takes a data-driven approach to addressing the debate. In it, he finds strong evidence to support the notion that writing an excellent business plan is time well spent.Continue reading →
In part I of this two-part series, Toptal Finance Expert Carolyn Deng provided an overview of the world of AI aimed at investors, with a focus on understanding what factors make for a great AI company. In this follow-up post, she outlines five practical steps investors should follow when diligencing a potential AI investment.Continue reading →
Stock options are widely used in public and private markets, both as malleable trading tools and for employee compensation. Yet many do not understand the components behind how they are priced. This guide discusses what drives the behavior of call and put options and how they can be deployed within portfolio management.Continue reading →
Over the last few years, the world has witnessed an explosion of interest surrounding Artificial Intelligence. A concept once confined primarily to the Sci-Fi genre, AI has become part of our everyday lives. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into AI companies, and investors all around the world are keen to put money to work in this space.
Nevertheless, there still exists a significant gap in understanding and knowledge about AI applications, particularly amongst the investor community. This article, the first of a two-part series on the topic, is a collection of thoughts and advice by Toptal Finance Expert Carolyn Deng, based on her experience having founded an AI startup as well as having worked as VC Investor.Continue reading →
Hidden in Excel and Power BI is a powerful data analysis pack named Get and Transform (previously known as Power Query). It is an ETL pack for cleaning and sorting raw data from a range of input sources, such as CSV and text files. This tutorial demonstrates how Get & Transform can help the data analyst both save time and uncover more insight.Continue reading →
Relatively unknown until recently, representation and warranty insurance is an interesting—and often extremely effective—tool for helping M&A deals cross the finishing line. By shifting the financial risk for breaches of representation and warranties to an insurance firm, these arrangements can enable sellers to receive all the purchase price proceeds at closing as opposed to being exposed to liquidity risk post deal close.
The first of a two-part series, this primer on reps and warranty insurance by M&A expert Javier Enrile is aimed at educating readers on what representation and warranty insurance is and how it works, followed by an overview of the drafting process.Continue reading →
Budgeting can be a drawn-out process, yet oftentimes once the year starts and results diverge, they become forgotten. Instead of budgeting just with qualitative methods, managers should combine them with quantitative tools. Comparing regressed historic trends with future expectations can be more accurate and ultimately ensure the budget survives the year.Continue reading →
Due in part to the unceremonial nature of its title, the value-creation potential of business plan consultants is often misunderstood and underappreciated. Questions such as, “What do they do that I can’t?”, “Why do they cost so much?” and, “Don’t you think we can handle this ourselves?”, all too often haunt their practice.
Having prolifically added value to 25+ clients across a range of industries, sizes, and mandates, Toptal Finance Expert, Josh Chapman, sheds light on the full scope of business plan consulting. What it is to be a great business plan consultant, how they create value, and what skills, attributes and experiences constitute the greats vs. the pretenders.Continue reading →
A decidedly less sexy, albeit critical, part of a CFO’s job description is working capital management and optimization. There are countless examples of companies that are forced to incur unnecessary debt and other financial obligations to meet their short-term financing needs, when in fact ample cash is sitting idly stuck in working capital.
But working capital optimization is hard to get right and often requires significant cross-functional efforts to execute effectively. In this article, Toptal Finance Expert Emilio Labrador draws on 25 years of professional experience across multiple industries to outline some of his main suggestions and approaches on how to tackle working capital management projects.Continue reading →
Renewable energy generation, lead by solar PV and wind power, is growing at a considerable rate. Innovations are lowering the cost to generate such power to levels of traditional fossil fuels. Yet underneath the positive headlines, there are some fundamental issues that remain in the long-term sustainability of business models in the industry.Continue reading →
Depending on your perspective, type, and motivation, the idea of building a board of directors either excites or intimidates you, complete with all associated imagery of aged oak rooms, brief-case wielding titans, and expensive cigars.
This article, by Toptal Finance Expert Orinola Gbadebo-Smith, sets out to debunk a few myths. It sheds light on boards as a construct, their workings, dealings, and nuances, and explores some battle-tested strategies for recruiting, building, and managing effective boards.Continue reading →
Fundraising is hard to get right, which is why companies of all sorts often turn to fundraising experts for help and advice regarding the fundraising process. There is a multitude of different professional figures that help companies raise capital, but for startups and growth companies, the two figures most often encountered are fundraising consultants and broker-dealers.
Despite many similarities between the two, there are some important differences that startup founders and company managers must understand if they are thinking of turning to one of these for help. In this article, Toptal Finance Expert Aleksey N. Krylov explores various features of both service providers and discusses the pros and cons of working with either one.Continue reading →
For a business manager, choosing what to invest in should not be an exercise of instinct. With capital budgeting methods, managers can appraise various projects simultaneously, with the end result indicating which one will have the highest impact on company value.Continue reading →
In his first article on the effects of the new US corporate tax reform bill, Toptal Finance Expert Jacob Wright assessed one of the most important impacts of the reform: the changes to interest deductibility. In this follow-up article, he runs through some further thoughts related to the effects on capital expenditures, in addition to a more high-level assessment of what the optimal capital structure of the future will look like given these changes.Continue reading →
It might be hard to imagine or remember, but there was once a time when going on a date with a stranger you met online was a strange concept—frowned upon, even. Today, however, millennials have led the charge on transforming the dating industry and making online dating universally accepted. In fact, a 2018 Statista survey revealed that 12% of 18-29-year-olds admit to being in a relationship with a partner they met online. And, consider that there are now over 1,500 dating apps or websites in existence.
Though matchmaking is one of the oldest industries in existence, online matchmaking is now having a moment of its own. This article explores the business of dating: the market size of dating apps in the U.S., the industry’s biggest players, and how these products actually make money (if they even do!).Continue reading →
Investment due diligence is a necessary process for both buyers and sellers to undertake to ensure the swift execution of their envisaged transaction. Although, with the stakes high, there are certain challenges that can arise throughout the process which, with careful planning and execution, can be mitigated.Continue reading →
The field of robotics has seen incredible strides forward in recent years. As a result of improvements in computer vision, dexterity and also overall economics, use of robots has increased in a variety of different fields. However, most of the growth in robotics so far has happened in industrial applications, and thus hidden from the view of the general public. But is this about to change?
In this article, Toptal Finance Expert Francesco Castellano focuses on the commercial robotics market. Thanks to recent breakthroughs in the fields of AI, mechatronics, sensors, and batteries, service and commercial robots are likely to see tremendous growth and adoption, likely heralding a new robotics revolution that could transform our daily lives in countless ways.Continue reading →
Popular rhetoric states that you need a team to found a startup. But what if you don’t have the desire or the right co-founders to start a new venture in a team? Contrary to popular belief, there are many successful solo ventures. This guide presents some tactics for solo entrepreneurs to follow when starting a solo venture.Continue reading →
In the life of almost any growing enterprise, there comes a point in time when the existing systems and processes become insufficient. Early-stage businesses tend to grow up with basic and low-cost software systems as well as a heavy reliance upon a few key administrative employees. Eventually, however, the software can’t keep up with the business, and the trusted employees become overtaxed.
For most enterprises at this key inflection point, implementing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, which integrates all areas of the business, can help to overcome this issue. It’s a hugely consequential decision for the business and must be approached with an uninterrupted focus on risk management. While ERP may not be sexy, it is of utmost importance for growing businesses and should not be ignored. This article provides enterprise leaders with the benefits and risks of ERP, as well as a detailed step-by-step implementation guide.Continue reading →
LTV:CAC analysis is one of the most important exercises startup founders must go through to evaluate their business’ prospects and raise external funding. It is, however, frequently misunderstood and misinterpreted.
In this article, Toptal Finance Expert Ryan Downie runs through a practical tutorial of how to perform LTV:CAC analysis correctly, and how it should be adapted and interpreted depending on the business model or sector in question.Continue reading →
Finding out your return on investment from a project can become a subjective process with the myriad of returns measures and formulas that exist. This overview provides a breakdown and explanation of what type of return you need to measure and how to calculate it. With further guidance on how to use returns data to guide objective decision making.Continue reading →
Biotech companies with little to no revenue can still be worth billions. Consider the most prominent 2017 biotech M&A deal when Gilead bought Kite Pharma for almost $12 billion. At the time of the deal, Kite had over $600 million in accumulated deficit, but it also had a pipeline of CAR-T cell therapies, which treat cancer. This article examines how to value such pipelines. It also focuses on the risk-adjusted NPV valuation methodology, portfolios of multiple drug candidates, and how value is impacted by the characteristics of the investor or acquirer.Continue reading →
Convertible notes have become an increasingly popular and common method for raising capital by startups, but how well do founders truly understand the implications of going down this route?
In this article, Toptal Finance Expert Jeffrey Briggs outlines the basics of convertible note structures, and runs through the pros and cons of using them to raise money for new entrepreneurial ventures.Continue reading →
Traditional approaches to valuing real estate can lean towards the qualitative side, relying more on intuition over sound rationale. Linear regression analysis, however, can offer a robust model for using past transactions in an area, to provide better guidance on property valuations.Continue reading →
A monthly digest packed with information that will make you a smarter financial professional.
Every month, we bring you our top financial news insights, inspiring content and fascinating interviews packed with tips and advice from our top experts. In June, we dissect Mary Meeker’s slides (what is she telling us with just one slide on Crypto?), ponder invisible asymptotes, and interview Scott Brown on what makes an incredible Interim CFO.Continue reading →
Mergers and acquisitions are headline-grabbing events that are often the pinnacle of a CEO’s career. But they also often fail to generate value, as numerous studies over the years have shown.
With over 15 years of experience doing M&A deals, Toptal Finance Expert Javier Enrile shows that the main reason for disappointing results is simple: Most people think M&A is merely an exercise of agreeing on a price for the deal. What they fail to understand is that there is a science to doing M&A that often makes the difference between a deal being successful or not.
In this article, Enrile runs through three key tactics for ensuring your company can get the most value out of an M&A transaction.Continue reading →
Companies, like castles, need a line of defense to repel the invaders’ advances. Economic moats, taking a cue from their watery namesakes, are long-term and sustainable competitive advantages that protect others from seizing market share. But on the flipside, are they actually just lazy, passive strategies that shun innovation?Continue reading →
One of the most important and challenging aspects of forecasting is handling the uncertainty inherent in examining the future. Every CEO, CFO, board member, investor, or investment committee member brings their own experience and approach to financial projections and uncertainty, influenced by different incentives. Oftentimes, comparing actual outcomes against projections underscores the need to explicitly recognize uncertainty.
Monte Carlo simulations are an extremely effective tool for handling risks and probabilities, used for everything from constructing DCF valuations, valuing call options in M&A, and discussing risks with lenders to seeking financing and guiding the allocation of VC funding for startups. This article provides a step-by-step tutorial on using Monte Carlo simulations in practice.Continue reading →
In the current low interest rate environment, investors have been increasingly moving towards alternative asset classes, particularly private equity which continues to attract the lion’s share of investor capital. But could a relatively unknown, niche new asset class hold the key for outsized market performance?
In this article, Toptal Finance Expert Toby Clarence-Smith uncovers the world of search fund investing, reviewing some of the key aspects of the asset class from the investor standpoint as well as running through the main benefits of putting money to work in this space.Continue reading →
The extent of investing in real estate for most individuals is in the bricks and mortar of their own house. For braver investors, there are a range of other options, the most notable being private real estate offerings. Similar to PE and VC funds, these structures can allow for tailored investments in skilled management teams undertaking complex projects.Continue reading →
In the last Super Bowl when the New England Patriots faced off against the Philadelphia Eagles, Americans bet a staggering $4.76 billion on the game. 97% of that figure was done so illegally. However, this will likely change by the time the next Super Bowl rolls around. In a hotly anticipated move on May 14, 2018, the US Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, paving the way for states to legalize sports betting.
This article covers the foundations of sports betting, including its $150 billion market size, implementation timeline, and revenue distribution. It will also examine the implications of its legalization, including increased sports engagement and popularity, ethical concerns, fresh opportunities, and its impact on fantasy sports and eSports.Continue reading →
With venture funding having grown more than 120% in the US in the last five years, startup founders and investors alike have grown increasingly comfortable with low margin business models. But the successes of the Amazons and Facebooks of this world often mask failure in a slew of other sectors, where the “build it and they will come” model doesn’t always work.
In this article, Toptal Finance Expert Toby Clarence-Smith brings attention back to the importance of studying a business’ long-term sustainability prospects, with a particular focus on unit economics, one of the building blocks of profitability and breakeven analysis for startups.Continue reading →
Of the three functional categories that drive value in business—i.e., the “hard,” the “soft,” and the “intangible”—mission statements comfortably reside in the third, alongside such concepts as brand and culture.
But despite the skepticism that is often associated with this category, and having uncovered some of the greatest gems in the corporate arena, this article argues that mission statements, when crafted and utilized effectively, are capable of driving billions of dollars in value.Continue reading →
Eyeballing the top-line figures of company growth is unlikely to uncover anything particular radical. To understand the trends that lead to user growth, retention, and/or engagement, statistical tools should be employed to test the underlying drivers behind performance.Continue reading →
With $936 billion of uninvested private equity capital inching down market, why do 46% to 80% of lower middle market sell-side transactions fail to close? The usual answer is that companies are not ready for buyers’ examination and owners can be overly optimistic or even greedy.
Business owners can do much more to put themselves in the driver’s seat. Success boils down to the following: (1) take the time and do the work to prepare for an exit transaction and (2) apply “intelligent greed” to close your best deal.Continue reading →
Fewer than 3% of applicants make it through Toptal Finance’s rigorous screening process. How do the best of the best become such effective financial consultants? We sat down with one of Toptal’s most on-demand financial consultants, Jeffrey Fidelman, who shared his proprietary methods for ensuring success for his clients and how he has grown his own business exponentially.Continue reading →
VC and PE fund structures are traditionally raised in the closed-ended manner, through limited partnerships with end dates. A less common alternative to this is an open-ended/evergreen fund, an ongoing structure that continues indefinitely. In this article we discuss the nuances of open-ended funds with a GP from B37 Ventures, who raised and operates one.Continue reading →
The discount rate is a critical input in any discounted cash flow valuation analysis. How does an analyst estimate a reasonable discount rate for a private company that has no publicly traded debt or equity?
This article focuses on best practices for estimation of the WACC in the context of a private company valuation. The discussion begins with an overview of the WACC, background on the components of the WACC, methods to estimate the WACC components for private companies, and an example of how to apply this framework to estimate a privately-held building materials company.Continue reading →
From abstract spreadsheets to real-world application, financial models have become an inextricable part of business life and an indispensable part of every company’s toolkit. But irrespective of its ubiquitousness as a productivity and decision-making tool, many out there still have a love-hate relationship with it.
Finance expert Alberto Bazzana authors a comprehensive “how-to guide”, for both the novices and experts among us, detailing Wall Street’s best practices for intelligent, effective, and error-free financial modeling.Continue reading →
To unlock growth in a company, you must first find the KPI that is core towards increasing company value. More effective knowledge of growth comes from a deeper understanding of the characteristics of a “perfect client,” the trends between user cohorts, and finding the tipping point that solidifies retention and engagement.Continue reading →
While growing investor enthusiasm has contributed to a historic $3 trillion of fundraising over the last five years, the PE industry faces increasing competition amongst firms, record-high multiples and other factors making it difficult to generate attractive returns. One aspect for consideration is succession planning, especially since CEO turnover at portfolio companies occurs at a rate of 73% and can increase hold times and decrease returns.
This article defines succession planning, and examines the best practices and mistakes to avoid in succession planning for PE portfolio companies. It also explores succession planning within private equity firms themselves, something PE firms have been uncharacteristically proactive about confronting recently.Continue reading →
The origins of family office investing date back, colorfully, to at least 15th century Florence, when the Medicis auspiciously gave the likes of Michelangelo and Da Vinci their start. Fast forward to present day, family offices have quietly continued to rival household VC names in the capital structures of the world’s largest tech companies (Uber, Facebook, and WeWork, for example).
Finance Expert Vidur Gupta presents a captivating introductory piece on the secretive but potent world of family office investing.Continue reading →
Technical debt, which relates to suboptimal technology infrastructure in an organization, can actually be a huge financial burden on a business. However, like traditional financial debt, there are steps and processes that can be taken to manage and mitigate the risk. In this article, we elaborate on how CFOs can tackle their technical debt burden.Continue reading →
Once crammed into stuffy showrooms with eager salespeople and a dizzying plethora of models, mattress purchases used to be notoriously complicated. However, a upstarts have recently revitalized the industry with innovations in marketing, delivery, and a direct-to-consumer model.
It’s true that the mattress industry is experiencing an upheaval, but rather than the typical narrative of newer operations completely displacing older ones, perhaps there’s room for both collaboration and innovation. There are lessons for investors, entrepreneurs, and corporate moguls alike.Continue reading →
Professional sports franchises continue to see record sale prices. But what drives a team like the Dallas Cowboys, who haven’t won a Super Bowl in over 20 years, to top the list of the most valuable sports franchises in the United States?
In this article, Toptal Finance Expert David Turney provides an overview of professional sports economics, unique valuation considerations, and a team valuation example.Continue reading →
In an era of subdued prices and with usage expected to plateau within the next 30 years, the focus for oil and gas companies must turn to cost control. Applying technological innovations such as blockchains, wearables, and advanced analytics to the supply chain can keep costs in check and maintain profitability.Continue reading →
Latin America boasts great investment opportunities with attractive risk levels, higher returns than home markets, and access to a large population base with growing income. However, Latin American acquisitions require special attention and include a number of difficulties unique to the region.
This article provides insights gleaned from Finance Expert Emilio Labrador’s 15 years of experience in Latin American oil and gas M&A. It provides practical tips for foreign acquirers considering investments in Latin America, on topics ranging from risk premiums in valuation, accounting due diligence, and legal considerations.Continue reading →
In December 2017, Congress’ tax reform bill, amongst many sweeping changes, reduced the marginal tax rate to 21% from 35% for corporations, and limited their use of interest expense as a tax shield.
This article explores the implications of these changes for traditional methods of valuation, including the discounted cash flow (DCF) method and the EBITDA multiple method for the corporate manager and finance professional.Continue reading →
Traditionally confined to the realms of insurance and pensions, actuaries are now branching out into the wider business world.
The long-termist and statistical approach of actuarial science makes it an invaluable tool for recurring income businesses. This article looks at how, showing examples of usage within customer lifetime value and human resources.Continue reading →
Grocery delivery startup Instacart has recently been valued at $4.2 billion. In this article, Finance Expert Patrick Gaffney works backwards and uses some basic assumptions to determine if the valuation is reasonable.
With companies opting to stay private for longer, analyzing private companies in this way can help us better understand industries typically shrouded in secrecy and provide clarity on the efficacy of certain business models.Continue reading →
The discipline of mergers and acquisitions is a complex and labyrinthine one, peppered with its share of false starts, thrilling chases, and heartbreaking shortfalls.
Toptal Finance Expert, Javier Enrile, explores the use and structuring of earnouts as one of the most effective tools for the M&A practitioner seeking to break negotiation deadlocks and mitigate risk.Continue reading →
Attention on the financial aspects of startups tends to focus on the external measure of fundraising. Yet before this, there are many aspects for an entrepreneur to consider regarding setting their business up for financial success.
In this article, we address eight vital considerations to take around the equity, budget, and valuation components of a startup.Continue reading →
Advisory boards are undoubtedly controversial. While many articles sing their praises, others condemn them as mere headshots in pitch decks. The truth is that advisory boards are usually not silver bullets. Still, they can be powerful tools and yield strong ROI—if executed properly.
This article includes an overview of advisory boards, their economics, when they can and should be used, and a step-by-step guide to building one.Continue reading →
In 2006, Ford Motor Company’s losses came in at a staggering $12.7 billion; but four years later, profits had rebounded to $6.6 billion. At around the same time, Carlos Brito’s “one firm, one culture” optimization policy delivered $2.3 billion in synergies, exceeding pre-merger projections for Anheuser-Busch’s combination with InBev by 50%.
Both Ford and AB InBev’s CEOs achieved these results by adeptly applying the principles of organizational optimization—concepts explored by Toptal Finance Restructuring Expert, Christopher Hearing, in this article.Continue reading →
2017 saw a number of issues arise in the VC industry and it may be approaching a watershed regarding its relevance.
This article looks into the root causes of the industry’s problems and why they have come to light. VCs can go through a pivot of their own to retain a seat at the table, with big data, exotic funds and platforms offering a path forward.Continue reading →
This year, Spotify will move its headquarters from Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood downtown to the Financial District. Beyond its physical presence, Spotify will also make its mark at NYSE when it goes public via direct listing, an unusual choice. What is expected to be the largest tech public debut of 2018 has set Wall Street and the music industry abuzz, with everyone eager to see how this unconventional approach will play out.
This article covers everything you need to know: a brief overview of the typical IPO process, how the direct listing will function, why Spotify chose to buck tradition, potential motivations behind the decision, and its potential implications.Continue reading →
Price elasticity theory was once the haunt of classical economists, with loose applications in the real world. Today, companies such as Uber, with its sheer volume of data and surge algorithms, are able to continuously triangulate price elasticities in real time to manipulate demand, moment-to-moment.
This article introduces the fundamentals of price elasticity of demand theory before taking us back into the real world, where theory will meet both big data and consumer psychology to create new possibilities.Continue reading →
Did you know that, in 2016, $60 billion was invested in art, which was comparable to the exit proceeds from venture capital investing?
This article sheds light on the opaque world of art investments and whether it’s a realistic choice for inclusion in portfolios. The article covers types of art as well as how investments are valued and return performance relative to other assets.Continue reading →
So, you’ve decided to get exposure to cryptocurrencies. In this newer space, a personal financial advisor may not be of great help. Neither will your banker, unless you are a customer of a limited number of progressive Swiss private banks, which facilitate crypto trading. What now?
This article provides practical information and resources around passive vs. active cryptocurrency investing, how to buy, sell, store, and monitor cryptocurrencies, as well as tax regulations in the space.Continue reading →
Millions of Americans depend on continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) for care as they age. In addition to living accommodations and medical services, these facilities also offer complex embedded insurance products that are improperly underwritten and insufficiently regulated.
As a result, many CCRCs are actuarially insolvent, creating a systemic risk that could leave many ageing residents financially and medically exposed at the end of their lives. Finance Expert, Jack Barker, takes us through these sector challenges and shares a proprietary capitalization model that could potentially help alleviate the issues.Continue reading →
Starting a fund is an aspiration harbored by many financiers. While attention tends to focus on investing and deal making, the initial fundraising process is riddled with uncertainty.
This guide presents the main considerations to take when raising a fund, covering the legal, accounting, staffing, and strategic roadblocks that will be encountered.Continue reading →
Candy, cosmetics… and medical care? In a vertical merger valued at a whopping $69 billion, your favorite stop-in, CVS, plans to buy Aetna. If it goes through, it will be the largest deal of 2017 and the largest healthcare deal to date.
Amidst all the buzz surrounding the merger, this article elucidates the motivations behind it, including operational cost-cutting, expanded services as a competitive advantage, and threats from both Amazon and UnitedHealth. This piece also explores potential market effects.Continue reading →
To the novice investor or otherwise uninitiated, the ubiquity of palm oil as a global commodity cannot be overstated. It is a super crop with EBITDA margins > 50%, is the world’s most consumed edible oil, and is one of the most versatile raw material/substrate bases known to industry.
This article explores the sparsely understood world of palm, including its cultivation, harvest, and application processes; its financial and investment profile; and ultimately the trends governing its future.Continue reading →
The attention on international payments tends to center around innovations appearing in the developed world. But what about developing countries?
This article addresses what contributes to volatility and illiquidity in emerging market currencies, and how they can stabilize to become more flexible.Continue reading →
The fitness industry is large, growing steadily and rapidly evolving. Since the 1980s, health club locations and memberships have more than tripled to 36,000 and 57 million, respectively. Yet, over the past decade, 35% of its customer base has shifted away from incumbent brands.
This article analyzes some of the shifts in the fitness industry that are illustrative of broader economic issues and highlights interesting implications for other consumer-facing businesses.Continue reading →
In the past five years, Blue Apron has brought meal kits to the masses and commands a 40% market share in the USA. Yet all is not rosy; its financial losses have continually accelerated and it has ceded 17% of its market share in the past year.
Amazon buying Whole Foods on the eve of its 2017 IPO could have just been bad luck, or prescient signs of what’s to come for Blue Apron. This article looks at ways that the business can get its house in order and win back the Millennial kitchen.Continue reading →
Retail investors have had a rough year. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF has underperformed the S&P 500 by nearly 30 percentage points. From eCommerce shifts to higher gas prices, there are plenty of arguments to be made against retail. Yet, there are a couple reasons to be jolly heading into the holiday season that few are talking about.
In this article, Elizabeth Hanano, CFA suggests that low expectations combined with lesser-known tailwinds indicate it may be time to dip a toe back into the retail pond.Continue reading →
Since their emergence in the early 2000s, Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF) have been met with both curiosity and trepidation, existing somewhere between return-maximizing asset manager and clandestine government agency.
This article takes us into the $7.4 trillion world of the SWF, shedding light on objectives, ambitions, and mandates as well as allocation strategies.Continue reading →
Financial purists have long questioned whether corporate, environmental, and social initiatives benefit the bottom line and how to quantify their impact.
In this article, we put aside motive—of genuine altruism or self interest—and philosophical debates around moral obligation. Instead, we examine the results of studies around whether corporate responsibility initiatives positively impact profitability, examples of companies that have implemented such measures successfully, and recommendations for those looking to do so.Continue reading →
The arguments for a cryptocurrency revolution can tend to sway toward appearing more like get-rich-quick schemes than balanced debates. The regulatory risk overhang, constant scams, and technological immaturity of the movement mean that long-term success is far from certain.
In this article, Jonathan Sterling addresses the other side of the argument: the bear case for a crypto future. He shines a light on the problems blighting cryptocurrencies and some remedies for them, drawing upon comparisons with historic bubbles, some centuries old.Continue reading →
By now, most have heard of Big Data – the buzzword d’jour across most business circles. In this exploratory piece, Finance Expert, Gregory Thompson, introduces us to the wonderful world of Small Data.
Specifically, he guides us through its broader market dynamics, tools, players and solutions, and includes a practical implementation guide for how small businesses might add analytics as a core-capability to their respective business arsenals.Continue reading →
Today, there are many celebrities that have become investors, and many investors that are borderline celebrities. One thing is clear: The division between Hollywood and Silicon Valley has become increasingly blurred. Though in the past it has been common for famous entertainers, musicians, or actors to grow their wealth through real estate, royalties, or restaurants, celebrities today are turning towards tech investments.
This article explores why celebrities are drawn to Silicon Valley, the types of companies they invest in, different models of their involvement, and commentary on how it impacts the tech industry.Continue reading →
Equity analysts often leave out an important source of wisdom when analyzing companies—the annual shareholder letter. This article intends to elucidate the purpose and traits of good shareholder letters based on an analysis of the 601 companies in the S&P SmallCap 600 Index. The article will also direct readers to some of the best lesser-known shareholder letters to put on their annual reading list.Continue reading →
With the global workforce becoming increasingly mobile, international money transfers (“remittances”) have equally grown in prominence, passing the $530 billion a year mark in 2016.
Fees for transfers are at an all-time low, thanks to pressure from bodies such as the UN, which is providing consumers with more value. But how are transfer companies responding to this pressure and what steps are they taking to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack?Continue reading →
When most finance professionals hear the term “13 week cash Forecast,” they view it as a burden—one more task to appease an overbearing lender. It doesn’t help that it seems less exciting than analyzing an investment or acquisition. Therefore, people often only prioritize these forecasts in distressed situations, when it is too late to take corrective actions.
However, in this article, Toptal Finance Expert Marty Mooney argues that weekly cash forecasts are crucial for all businesses, irrespective of size, health, or sector. It also provides a simple tutorial for efficiently building such analyses.Continue reading →
Fintech attention tends to focus on startups and their efforts to unbundle the financial service industry’s suite of services. But how are banks responding to this disruptive threat? Despite their wealth, talent, and rich history of innovation, they have been sluggish to respond to the upstart movement.
This article suggest four ways banks can change their tact and respond better to fintech.Continue reading →
When most hear “drone,” they think expensive military aircrafts or small consumer toys. However, the future of drones will actually be shaped by practical commercial applications, due to their ability to drive efficiency and data analytics.
This article defines drones and their total addressable market and highlights how their capabilities can be leveraged in commercial business operations. It also includes investment trends and predictions for the future of the industry.Continue reading →
Ray Dalio is an investing legend whose success is most often attributed to investment acumen. This article argues that it was equally due to his foresight as an early but quiet adopter of computational systems, big data techniques, and artificial intelligence that resulted in his outstanding success. Bridgewater was one of the world’s earliest fintech companies.Continue reading →
Competitive strategy frameworks are widely known and mainstays of university curricula, despite being almost 40 years old. We often hear the stories of Walmart and Southwest Airlines, but what modern examples are there? In this article we use Michael Porter’s activity positioning framework to show successful applications of competitive strategy from modern digital companies.Continue reading →
Search funds, though once an esoteric asset class and model for entrepreneurship, have seen a substantial rise in popularity in recent years. They can often represent a superior alternative to the venture-backed startup route especially for a select cohort of formally trained entrepreneurs, most of all those who deeply understand their motives, risk appetites, and contextual/financial encumbrances.Continue reading →
$7.35 million. That’s the average cost of a data breach is. Sure, cybersecurity isn’t sexy. However, in today’s digital age, it is undeniably critical for large corporations and small startups alike. This is compounded by the fact that hacks are becoming commonplace.
Read on to arm yourself with awareness to these invisible threats, and tangible steps you can take to protect yourself and your company.Continue reading →
Total Addressable Market (TAM) sizing exercises have become very popular for assessing the potential of a business. TAM is, however, often miscalculated and misinterpreted. In this article, we will look at how to calculate it and its derivative subset waypoints of SAM and SOM. A working example will also be demonstrated for WeWork.Continue reading →
Despite significant advancements, cryptocurrencies remain highly controversial; while some tout it as “the next internet,” others view Bitcoin as “evil.” At their simplest, they are the newest fintech fad; yet at their most complex, they’re a revolutionary technology challenging the political and social underpinnings of society. This article will demystify cryptocurrencies’ appeal, its complex underlying technology, and its value. It will also examine the accounting and regulatory, and privacy issues surrounding the space.Continue reading →
EBITDA is one of the most common metrics in finance. However, while intended to provide a “cleaner” picture of operating performance than net income, in reality it often achieves the opposite effect. It is also in many cases a questionable proxy for cash flow, as well as a dubious valuation tool.Continue reading →
Though traditional economic theory posits that individuals are rational, we all know this to be an oversimplification of the truth. The cyclical investment process is rife with psychological pitfalls. Only by becoming aware of and actively avoiding innate behavioral biases can investors reach impartial decisions. Herein lies the true value of the emerging field of behavioral finance, which sheds light on true financial behavior.Continue reading →
Everyone is familiar with Elon Musk the Entrepreneur, but what about Musk the Investor? In this article, we will look at how Musk has funded his ventures and managed his personal angel investments over his career, clever tactics that he has applied, and lessons learned from his experiences.Continue reading →
As consumers, we’re familiar with AI: we benefit from cars that parallel park themselves, devices that respond when asked questions, and streaming platforms that suggest shows we may like. However, professionally, the larger question is how industries will harness the power of AI. In finance, AI offers opportunities for operational efficiencies in everything from risk management and trading to insurance underwriting.Continue reading →
Fundraising, for companies at any stage, is undoubtedly a challenging process. Even for seasoned entrepreneurs and startups already experiencing market traction, a compelling pitch and accompanying pitch deck are still necessary. While there is variance around stylistic delivery of the pitch and aesthetic of the deck itself, you might be relieved to hear that the infamous pitch deck boils down to a formula.Continue reading →
While the complex esports industry may be daunting for investors, it is growing exponentially and has already amassed a large, global audience.Continue reading →
Many have a love-hate relationship with Microsoft’s PowerPoint. While super flexible, the tool can also be manual, tedious, and all-consuming, especially for the uninitiated. Authored by a former management consultant and finance expert, this article will help every user—from the beginner to the advanced operator—smooth out some of their points of friction and become an expert-level user of the application.Continue reading →
Through its acquisition of Whole Foods, Amazon is not only likely to disrupt the grocery shopping experience but is perhaps embarking on a grander push that could change the entire retail landscape, leaving Walmart on the back foot.Continue reading →
The Glass-Steagall Act, Depression-era legislation, has had a controversial, unconventional run. 80 years after its inception, it’s made its way back into public discourse. This article examines the historical context of the Act, its erosion, and its repeal, as well as its impact on the financial crisis.Continue reading →
Many newcomers to venture capital fail to appreciate some of the nuances that distinguishes venture investing from traditional forms of financial investing. This article delves into three areas in particular that new venture investors should look to understand.Continue reading →
The private equity industry is showing signs of maturity as record competition amongst funds and record-high levels of dry powder, combined with strong competition from cash-rich corporates, have driven valuations to levels that make it difficult to see how returns could remain competitive.Continue reading →
When looking to sell your business, you will want to maximize its value through a combination of planning and timing. This article runs through some of the most important considerations to keep in mind when preparing for a sale.Continue reading →
After several months of relative quiet, Greece is back in the spotlight as the latest repayment deadline on its bailout debt comes due in July. We take the opportunity to review the root causes of the crisis, what has been happening since it kicked off, and what needs to be done to resolve the situation.Continue reading →
A cashless society is approaching, with progress particularly pronounced in certain parts of the world. This piece examines global payment trends, as well as benefits and drawbacks of a cashless economy. It also includes case studies on India and Sweden, two countries already transitioning to a cashless future.Continue reading →
The financial services industry is seeing a wave of innovation that is bringing with it new technology, but also a need to attract and develop talent that have the skillset needed to operate in this changing environment. This article delves into some of the most important trends affecting the industry.Continue reading →
As retail continues to shift online, businesses and manufacturers are faced with ever-growing pressures to build serious online presences and distribution. This article looks at the different options available, and assesses their merits and considerations from a financial standpointContinue reading →
Four years on from the signing of the JOBS act, equity crowdfunding remains a small, niche market. In this article, we take a look at the current state of equity crowdfunding in the US and assess some of the challenges the market faces if it wants to grow into its potential.Continue reading →
Startups nowadays are hyper focused on growth at all costs, a practice which often undermines the fundamental health of the business. This article takes an in-depth look at the importance of focusing on customer retention from day one and the practical benefits it can provide in the medium to long term.Continue reading →
With tax reform discussions likely to rise to the national forefront, this article provides analysis regarding border adjustment taxes and the recent House proposal. It assesses economic implications and historical comparisons to help you understand how you and your business might be impacted.Continue reading →
With the arrival and growing ubiquity of big data, Excel, as a data-mining and processing tool has been pushed to its limits—reflected in its dated 1,048,576 row hard limit and the application’s processing speed slowing to a crawl. As of 2010, Microsoft released a Power Pivot function that transformed the scope and usefulness of Excel where the extraction, combination, and analysis of large datasets are concerned.
Using live cases, Finance Expert Ellen Su explores in detail how to master Power Pivot and explores its hidden advantages as a big data tool.Continue reading →
Pricing strategy is one of the most important financial levers that companies have at their disposal to influence the financial success of their business. However, it is not an easy task. This article analyzes SaaS software pricing strategies and finds that several of the operational characteristics of the business model generate some very useful pricing advantages that can help drive financial performance.Continue reading →
Open-source software is a catalyst for growth and change in the IT industry, and one can’t overestimate its importance to the sector. In recent years, there has been a surge in venture capital dollars pouring into the sector. In this article, we analyse whether recent valuations make sense, and whether the open-source model lends itself to the returns profile that venture capital investors look for.Continue reading →
Ahead of Snap’s IPO, we take a look at whether the rumoured valuation makes sense, and find that whilst overall market concerns regarding DAU growth are justified, the market is likely under-valuing the company’s ARPU growth prospects. For us, Snap is a Buy.Continue reading →
Despite the large increase in resources aimed at helping founders navigate the fundraising process, many still struggle when it comes to comprehending certain term sheet clauses.
Such clauses can lead to founders losing control of their company or payout structures upon exit down the road. This post breaks down the term sheet’s trickiest clauses and the implications thereof.Continue reading →
Equity research provides a very useful function in our current financial markets. Nevertheless, the profession has come under fire in recent years.
In this post, Toptal Finance Expert Ryan Downie details how to utilize research reports more effectively. Additionally, he outlines the equity research’s main value for both sophisticated and retail investors and highlights the pitfalls of this profession, its causes, and how you should evaluate research in order to avoid these issues.Continue reading →
For young companies, the value of a full-time CFO is hotly contested. At the debate’s core, is the trade-off between the sheer expense of an experienced CFO at such an early stage (not cheap), and the value said individual posits to confer where growth, strategy, fundraising, and operations are concerned.
Borrowing elements from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and adapting them for this purpose, Toptal Finance Expert Scott Brown introduces a unique framework for how startups might go about thinking through and making this decision.Continue reading →
Between 2013 and 2015, the number of Unicorns exploded to 140 members, marking an incredible growth spurt in valuations and positive sentiment toward the venture industry.
But after a rocky 2016, in which scandals, funding downrounds, and more cautious investor commentary emerged, many have questioned the validity of the sector’s valuations. With this backdrop, 2017 is shaping up to be a make-or-break year for the Unicorn Club. Is the party over?Continue reading →