Thursday, April 18, 2024

DoorDash’s new CFO started as an engineer and now oversees a finance team of over 400

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“I’ve always been curious about solving problems,” DoorDash CFO Ravi Inukonda tells me. “I think finance is one of those disciplines that help you connect the inputs and the outputs. And that’s how I ended up here. And I love it.”

Inukonda became finance chief at the food delivery platform DoorDash on March 1. He was promoted from his role of VP of finance and strategy as Prabir Adarkar, CFO since 2018, steps into a new role as president and COO. Adarkar succeeds Christopher Payne, who is retiring. Payne will remain as an advisor through the end of May.

This is Inukonda’s first-ever CFO role, and he’s the leader of a finance organization with over 400 people. “I would say, I felt honored,” Inukonda says of his first day in the role. “But at the same time, it felt very natural. The advantage I had, obviously, is working across the company for many years. I’ve had an inside view into how to operate and scale the business.”

Inukonda has an “intuitive grasp of our business’ unique interconnectedness and an intricate understanding of the second- and third-order effects of our decisions that benefits all of our stakeholders,” Tony Xu, CEO of DoorDash, said in the company’s announcement. “Ravi’s impact has continued to expand over his time at DoorDash, and his capabilities as a leader have pushed us to excel. He’ll be a world-class CFO.”

A.I. in finance

Inukonda previously served as the VP of finance and strategy for almost five years. And before joining DoorDash, he was the head of finance at Uber Eats. He actually started his career as an engineer. But Inukonda had a desire to better understand how the entire business works and decided to pursue an MBA at MIT Sloan School of Management. He worked in investment banking at Goldman Sachs, did a few years in private equity, and then switched over to corporate finance.

As Inukonda is tech savvy, DoorDash is using A.I. in the finance function. “We’ve used machine learning for the last four or five years, and our prediction capabilities have gotten significantly better over time,” he says. When I first started, we used to do it manually in Excel.”

An example of how you use machine learning? “There’s a sushi restaurant near my house, and when I go there on a Friday night, I see more Dashers than actual customers,” he explains. “What the owner has done is create a separate entrance where the Dashers come in and out in less than a minute. And that’s all science for us, right? We need to be able to predict when the food is going to be ready when the Dashers need to show up and leave the restaurant to get to the customer.”

Inukonda is “personally super excited about generative A.I.,” he says. And he’s been reviewing use cases for the finance function.

DoorDash’s Q1 2023 earnings call is scheduled for May 4, with Inukonda at the helm of finance. In February, the company reported Q4 2022 revenue of $1.82 billion, with a 40% increase over the prior year, beating estimates but had an adjusted loss of $1.65 a share. For the quarter, total orders increased 27% year over year. 

Inukonda plans to continue the strategic focus on finance, the organization he helped grow over the past few years. “Finance needs to be an enabler, not a cop,” he says. “Finance cannot just be a reporting function. We’re constantly focused on the business and thinking about how we can further DoorDash’s mission of empowering local economies.”

Before our talk ended, I asked Inukonda what he orders the most through DoorDash. “Chicken salad from a restaurant called Starbird Chicken,” he says. “I probably had the same thing over 100 times. It’s wonderful. You should try it.”


Sheryl Estrada

sheryl.estrada@fortune.com

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Big deal

Most executives say they are unprepared for immediate adoption of generative A.I., according to a survey by KPMG U.S. released this morning. The findings are based on a survey of 225 U.S. executives at companies (revenue of $1 billion and above) in the last two weeks of March. The executives say generative A.I. (78%) will overwhelmingly have the greatest impact on their business, followed by advanced robotics (40%), and quantum computing (33%). However, 60% say they are still a year or two away from implementing their first generative A.I. solution. Respondents cite cost and lack of business case as the two highest barriers to implementing generative A.I. But cybersecurity (81%) and data privacy (78%) concern leaders the most. More than half (66%) of respondents also say they plan to increase their understanding of the technology for adoption.

Going deeper

Autodesk, H&M Group, JPMorgan Chase, and Workday recently announced that they are joining Frontier, a $1 billion advance market commitment to buy permanent carbon removal. The membership reflects a commitment to help scale new technologies and accelerate carbon removal. The companies will commit to purchase a combined $100 million of “permanent, high-quality carbon removal” by 2030, bringing Frontier’s total advance market commitment to over $1 billion. The new members will join Frontier’s founders Stripe, Alphabet, Shopify, Meta, and McKinsey, who last year committed to buying a combined $925 million of permanent carbon removal by 2030.

Leaderboard

Daniel Beck, CFO at SVB Financial, the bankrupt former owner of Silicon Valley Bank, has officially resigned, more than a month after the lender collapsed into receivership. CEO Gregory Becker has resigned as well, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said April 21 in a filing. Beck, CFO since 2017, will be succeeded by Nicholas Grossi on an interim basis.

Wayne Wasechek was appointed interim VP, CFO, and chief accounting officer at PotlatchDeltic Corporation (Nasdaq: PCH), effective April 19. Jerry Richards resigned as VP and CFO to accept an opportunity with another company but will remain until May 12 to assist with the transition. He joined the company in 2013. Before taking on the interim CFO role, Wasechek was the controller and principal accounting officer. The company will initiate a formal CFO search. PotlatchDeltic is a Real Estate Investment Trust that owns nearly 2.2 million acres of timberlands in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.

Overheard

“You have much less productivity if you’re working from home in your pajamas with three little kids running around than if you’re in an office.”

—Sam Zell, billionaire founder and chairman of Equity Group Investments, said during a luncheon hosted on April 19 by New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate. Zell, of course, is not a neutral observer as the shift to remote work has hammered commercial real estate, Fortune reported. However, a Pew Research survey published last month actually found that 56% of respondents said working from home helps them get work done and meet deadlines, while 37% said it neither helps nor hurts.

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