According to Capsule8’s Scott Kenerly, being the CFO of high-tech startups is “not for the faint of heart.” On any given day, he’s tackling projects that range from corporate development to strategy, to accounting/finance, to human resources, to operations, and beyond. And with a fast-moving security landscape, a global pandemic, and an entirely remote workforce, according to Scott, “there’s no shortage of work to go around!” He’s even taking on a more operational role than he has previously, as we all pitch in to keep up with our company’s rapid scaling. (Capsule8 grew nearly 200% during the pandemic).
Scott joined Capsule8 in May of 2019, transitioning from his role as a CEO/CFO of a B2B marketing company to CFO of a Linux production protection startup. That might seem like a leap, but Scott is no stranger to the security space. He was also head of finance at ThreatGRID, a malware analysis startup that Cisco acquired in 2014. When asked why he wanted to move back to security, it was all about “the three Ts” for Scott.
“It sounds cliche but it was essentially the classic three Ts of Silicon Valley: Team, Technology, and TAM. I knew of John from our mutual colleagues in the security industry and heard he had put together a fantastic team. Then, once I learned about the technology and the problem we are solving (providing protection for the world’s production systems), I knew that the market opportunity was significant and that this was a chance to make a real impact in the industry.”
While Capsule8 is making a real impact in the industry, Scott is making a real impact at Capsule8. One of our company’s core values is transparency, and Scott shares full financial updates with the entire staff during our All-Hands meetings held every other week. This commitment to openness also helps build relationships across the various teams in our organization, and for Scott, it’s the people who make the difference.
“What I like most about working in tech – and specifically security – is you are constantly surrounded by incredibly bright individuals but also individuals who have a completely different perspective from me. I’ve spent my career in finance, accounting and operations, so it is always fun to collaborate in our environment and hear different approaches to problem solving. It sometimes makes me wish I had a computer science degree (but not often).”
While he may not be helping to craft our latest and greatest attack detections, tech does play a role in Scott’s day-to-day activities. Capsule8 tries to automate as much as possible in the finance function so he’s always in Quickbooks, Salesforce, SaaS Optics, Expensify, Bill.com, Justworks (HR), and of course Excel and PowerPoint. And by his side/on his desk always, his trusty vintage calculator.
With all these different moving parts and responsibilities, it’s not always easy for Scott to describe what he does to his family and friends.
“When my last security company was acquired by Cisco my parents were excited that I was now working for the company that manufactured their cable box. So, it takes some explaining. But I think they’re starting to get it.”
One of Scott’s favorite office projects that may be a bit easier to explain to family and friends, but certainly was not easy to take on, was the office itself.
“Corporate development and strategy work are always fun, but probably the most fulfilling project was overseeing the buildout and design of our beautiful office in downtown NYC.”
Scott is just as busy outside of the office, so it’s not surprising he approaches his life with a well-planned and proven strategy.
“I’ve tried to streamline my life to where I’m only ever doing one of five things: 1) hanging with my wife, baby and dog, 2) writing music, 3) exercising, 4) working or 5) drinking wine. That’s it.”