While we made it rain earlier this summer with the announcement of our $50M Series D closing, we now need someone to pick up all those bills. We’re pleased to introduce Derek Yung, the ‘fly’s new Chief Financial Officer (CFO). As CFO, Derek will drive Ticketfly’s business strategy and growth, leading our finance, accounting, and IT departments. Previously, Derek was the CFO of Tria Beauty and Nextag. Derek will use his strong finance background to help us deliver on our promise to reimagine live events for venues, promoters, and fans. We sat down with the man who knows where all the cash is buried to learn a little more:
Ticketfly (TF): Welcome, Derek! Let’s hear about your background. How’d you get your start in finance?
Derek Yung (DY): I actually didn’t start out with a career in finance. I’ve always been interested in technology and all of the ways it applies to our everyday lives, so I was a computer science undergrad at Stanford and got into management consulting after college. That allowed me to work in many different industries, from the toy industry, to e-commerce, and even government and energy. I later found myself on a finance track and held finance roles at LeapFrog, then became CFO at Nextag and later at Tria Beauty.
Looking back, I recognize that I followed a trend of working with technology-enabled B2B2C companies, especially those that were doing innovative work to directly benefit consumers. I even had a stint as a software engineer at one point. That background helps me understand what kind of investments a technology company needs to make in order to succeed.
TF: Live events is a new business for you—what brought you to Ticketfly?
DY: Ticketfly is in a really fun space, and that’s reflected throughout the company culture. This is also a great time to be in live events. People count on us to connect them to great experiences. When I think about our space as a whole, I think about all of the things we have yet to do and all the innovation that has yet to happen. That innovation can and will happen with Ticketfly, and I bought into that from the moment I met Andrew [Dreskin]. He’s got an insane passion for the business, for live events, and for music, and he’s made sure to get the company behind that vision.
TF: How would you define your leadership style?
DY: I’m always looking to build and foster great team work. My job is to define roles that make sense, roles that people can get into and get excited about, and then allow them to grow and advance in those roles as the company grows and advances around them. Recruiting is essential to that—it’s a people-first mentality.
As the head of finance, I also need to lead as a business partner. You need to realize the needs of all the functional areas and bring some analytical rigor to each part of the company. Contrary to what people might think, I actually challenge people on whether we’re investing enough to achieve our strategy and goals. That’s a more important question to consider than “are we spending too much?” You need to take risks to be successful, and my style is to define a sound logic around the risk and move forward.
TF: What do you look for when hiring people?
DY: Easy—intrinsic motivation. I look for people who have that drive, that spark, and who are self-aware. It’s important to remember all the different places that can come from, be it personal or professional passions or interests. People who like entertainment and live events are more likely to be happy at Ticketfly because that’s what we do. It’s also important to remember that you always build teams one person at a time. No matter how big, the team dynamic changes every time a new person is added.
TF: Where do you see Ticketfly going?
DY: It helps that we landed $50M in the bank just before I got here! I see us moving toward a dominant role in the space. We’re going to make a significant dent in all the existing players. I think you’re also going to see us become an employer of choice, more than we are now and not just in entertainment, or innovation, or e-commerce, or technology, but in all areas.
TF: Here’s a question all CFOs are getting: Do you think we’re in another tech bubble?
DY: It’s clear that there are more “unicorns” than ever before, but if you go back to the internet/dot com bubble of the late 90s, there was something fundamentally wrong. Those companies were not being valued based on the return that they had the potential of making. This time, what’s different is we’re talking about real companies that have real business models and significant consumer value and adoption. The question is whether they can deliver on the promises they made around their valuations.
TF: Now, for the most important question—favorite concert?
DY: In junior high school, I was part of a group that got New Kids on the Block to play at our school. We won a radio contest by submitting thousands of index-sized cards explaining why they should play at our school. It took weeks and a lot of people who contributed big and small. It was the earliest form of crowdsourcing.