Toptal Finance Blog

The Toptal Finance Blog is a hub for in-depth studies and analysis on all facets of finance, ranging from innovative strategies on raising capital to detailed coverage of new finance trends and technologies.
Elizabeth J. Howell Hanano, CFA
Legal Sports Betting: A New Economy Built on Vice

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 →
Toby Clarence-Smith
Don't Scale an Unprofitable Business: Why Unit Economics (Still) Matter

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 →
Orinola Gbadebo-Smith
Mission Statements: How Effectively Used Intangible Assets Create Corporate Value

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 →
William B. Doyle, Jr.
Selling a Business for Maximum Value in a Challenging M&A Market

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 →
Elizabeth J. Howell Hanano, CFA
How to Be an Amazing Financial Consultant

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 →
David Turney
Estimating WACC for Private Company Valuation: A Tutorial

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 →
Alberto Mihelcic Bazzana
Advanced Financial Modeling Best Practices: Hacks for Intelligent, Error-Free Modeling

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 →
Melissa Lin
Private Equity Succession Planning Do’s and Don’ts

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 →
Vidur G. Gupta
Family Office Investment Guide: An Alternative to Venture Capital

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 →
Erik Frederick
The Financial Implications of Technical Debt

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 →
Melissa Lin
Waking Up a Sleeping Industry: Mattress Industry Disruption

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 →
David Turney
Professional Sports Franchise Valuation

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 →
Emilio Labrador
Latin America M&A Best Practices

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 →
Jacob Wright
Corporate Tax Reform and the Future of Valuation

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 →
Patrick Gaffney
Is $4.2 Billion Reasonable? How to Evaluate Instacart's Valuation

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 →
Subscribe
Free email updates
Get the latest content first.
No spam. Just great articles & insights.
Free email updates
Get the latest content first.
Thank you for subscribing!
Check your inbox to confirm subscription. You'll start receiving posts after you confirm.