We’re excited to welcome our very first CFO Mike Asher to the HackerRank family. For the last 20 years, he’s steered high-growth rocket ship startups like Platfora, Appcelerator, GreenPlum and NewScale.
Ordinarily, CFOs are financial gatekeepers, but Asher’s no ordinary CFO. In a market where 90% of startups fail, Asher’s killer strategic instincts and proven track record make him one of the most sought-after financiers in Silicon Valley. He’s the quintessential new “startup CFO” who will roll up his sleeves, dive into every facet of the company and help model the business for long-term, sustainable growth. Asher’s placing a well-educated bet on HackerRank. In his own words:
There are a few things that I look for in a company, and HackerRank fits the profile:
- Big Market Opportunity. What I’ve found doing this for a while is that it’s not any harder to be successful in a big market versus a small market. If I’m going to work hard, I might as well go after a big market.
- Good core foundation. I look for a product that’s differentiated and that really works.
- High sales traction. I need to see a real market presence. Are people actually buying the product?
HackerRank’s existing enterprise product suite has already been dominating the mainstream market with customers across industries, like Time, Walmart and Capital One. With the launch of HackerRank Jobs, which bridges a thriving community of programmers and companies that need engineers, this is actually just the beginning.
CEO Vivek Ravisankar says Asher has one of the most strategic minds he’s ever seen. “We’re on a mission to change the way every single company builds their engineering teams, and Mike’s deep experience will ensure that we grow and scale really fast this year,” he says.
It might seem counterintuitive. Why would a successful CFO choose to dive headfirst into another startup when there are hints of an economic slowdown—not to mention the perpetually rumored tech bubble.
“There are enough programmers and technical talent in the world that there’ll always be hiring. There’s always going to be a need for it,” Asher says.
Why There Will Always be a Need for Programmers
If you look back to the 2008 recession in the US. Although layoffs spread like wildfire across organizations, an archived InfoWorld article reported that execs actually increased their development budgets, and the market for programming jobs grew by 7.4% in 2009.
So, why are programmers a bright spot in both good and bad economic times?
Mario Daniele Amore of Bocconni University analyzed how much US companies invested in innovations during the downturns between 1976 – 2006, which included 3 major recessions (in the 1980s, 1990s and 2001). Results show that companies that invest more in research and development during hard times end up having a positive impact long-term.
“The best companies are adding to their engineering talent even in the down economy,” Asher says. Plus, more and more companies are starting to use HackerRank not only for assessing potential candidates but also to benchmark their existing engineering team.
“This means we’re not only helping companies get new engineers in the door but also rounding out the skills necessary,” he says. “Even in a down economy, that’s what you need.”
Asher also has a background in computer science, and was a COBOL programmer before switching over the finance. He’s always had an affinity to software technology. There’s also an emotional element in his decision of choosing HackerRank. Despite being approached by multiple companies, he said:
“There’s something about this company that’s really cool and it’s where I want to go. I really like the people here and our mission of creating a more meritocratic world.”
Asher joins recent hires COO Grady Burnett and VP of Product & Growth David Park to help lead HackerRank into its next phase of high-growth. With a high flying executive team, and a next-generation product, this is just the beginning for HackerRank.