Welcoming Nitro’s First CFO: Q&A with Peter Bardwick

Peter Bardwick, far right, observing "Fancy Friday" with the Nitro SF Finance team.

Peter Bardwick, far right, observing “Fancy Friday” with the Nitro SF Finance team.

Today, the Nitro family is both proud and thrilled to announce the appointment of J. Peter Bardwick as our new (and first!) Chief Financial Officer. Peter brings with him an incredible breadth of experience in finance, and in his role he’ll be leading our accounting, finance, legal, governance, and IT functions.

To give a few quick stats on Peter (hey—we’ll take any opportunity we can to brag about him!), he was named a 2014 Bay Area CFO of the Year for Small to Mid Size Public Companies and led his most recent organization, Rocket Fuel, in the third-most successful IPO of 2013. His first IPO, for CBS MarketWatch, remains one of the most successful IPOs ever.  In total Peter has raised almost $11B and he sits on a variety of corporate boards.

I recently had a chance to meet with Peter for a chat about his experience, interests, and the reasons he feels Nitro is the right place for him, right now. Read on to get to know Nitro’s brand-new CFO!

Can you tell us a little about your background?

Well, I started in NYC as an investment banker. I primarily worked in the private markets, financing, leveraged buyouts, and focusing on complex transactions. Then, when a client of mine—a public company—got into a little trouble, I moved to the industry side. Since then, my focus has been on companies in transition and fast-growing companies in the technology space, as well as turnarounds. Being in Silicon Valley, the fast-growing companies are a lot more fun.

With all of that experience, what are some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned? 

First, that great teams get great results. Every time I’ve been in a hurry to make a hire and relaxed my standards, I’ve come to regret it. The more experienced I get, the less flexible I get about that.

Secondly, people are talking about “culture” a lot right now, and in this environment [ie the tech scene], many people think culture translates into the number of free meals you get, or whether or not chair massages are included in your benefits package. But truly, the best cultures are a result of teams actually accomplishing hard tasks together. If you’re successful in accomplishing hard tasks, then you’ve probably earned the free meals and massages, anyway!

Why did you decide to join Nitro?

I was made to feel completely at ease in the Nitro office the first time I came in to meet the team, and in every subsequent visit throughout the hiring process I felt equally comfortable. It’s a very welcoming environment. I also connected with Nitro’s working culture—it’s serious and hard-driving. That doesn’t extend to the individuals, however; we can all laugh at ourselves—we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

As for the company itself, we’re in an interesting position to take the growing and profitable business of the past 10 years—supported by Nitro Pro—and transition into some very rapidly-growing areas. Ultimately, I was hooked on the combination of great culture and great opportunity.

Even though you only just joined the team, what are you most excited to begin working on in your new role as a Nitronaut?

The company’s got big plans for the next couple of years, and I think we’ll be surprising people with what we’ll be doing, which is exciting. I’m also eager to dig in and help the team figure out the best places to put our resources, figure out the best ways to accelerate our growth—figure out the best ways to thrill our customers.

As you familiarize yourself with Nitro’s industry, what are a few trends you’ve spotted that fascinate you?

I think it’s insane that paperwork still involves paper! As somebody that’s been involved in building and managing corporate infrastructures for a number of decades now, moving paperwork into the cloud—making it electronic—that’s huge. The paperless office never happened, and it should. So that’s really the most exciting thing, and I think the world is ready for that development now in a way that it wasn’t 5 or 10 years ago.

I’m also fascinated with, and really excited about, the ways that Nitro can become part of the corporate-focused cloud ecosystem. I know our tools can bring real value to companies looking to simplify and streamline their processes.  It’s not only what you might expect to hear from a CFO—cutting costs and creating efficiencies, etc.—but especially about freeing people to use their brains and do work that they feel good about when they head home at the end of the day.

We all spend too much time on stuff that doesn’t matter. I think Nitro will continue to create products that people love to use, and help people do the work that does matter, better.

Impressive resume aside, tell us three interesting things about yourself that we wouldn’t find on your LinkedIn profile.

Well, when I left Wall Street, I went sailing in the Caribbean for two years. We bought a boat—I tried to work, but didn’t get around to it too often. Let’s see…I really like anything that involves internal combustion—gas-powered engines, cars, motorcycles, all that stuff. And, when I was 14, my parents packed me and my sisters up in a Winnebago and we drove from Michigan to Bolivia—the trip took a whole year.

I’d like to thank Peter for spending time answering these questions! And for more of Peter, follow him on Twitter @PeterBaCaB, or connect with him on LinkedIn.