Episode 01: How 2020 Revealed the Importance of Liquidity

Podcast Transcript

Narrator
This episode features an interview with Eric Ball. Eric is co-founder and general partner at impact venture capital. He previously served as CFO of C3 AI, and he spent 10 years as senior VP and treasurer at Oracle, where he was named one of the 100 most influential people in finance. On this episode, Eric discusses how the concept of liquidity has evolved, what 2020 revealed about the importance of liquidity and how to manage cash in times of prosperity, as well as in times of crisis. Now please enjoy this interview between Eric Ball. Co-founder and general partner at impact venture capital and former senior VP and treasurer, Oracle. And your host, Tom Butta.

Eric Ball:
When 9-11 happened, it was embarrassing, but not career threatening to not have answers in a crisis because the board members are not getting better answers that there are other companies. I think there’s no excuse. Now in 2020, you should know how to pack your liquidity in real time.

Tom:
Hello and welcome to the invisible vault. I’m your host Tom Butta, chief marketing officer at Kyriba. This podcast has been several months in the making and I’m excited to finally be able to share it with you. Over the coming months, we’ll be talking to some of the brightest and most interesting minds in the finance industry about how they’re navigating the challenges of leading and transforming the modern finance organization. For this inaugural episode, I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Eric Ball. Eric has had a fascinating career journey from cash register clerk to CFO to starting his own venture firm. Eric shared some fascinating insights about how the pandemic has heightened the challenges of managing cash and liquidity.

I particularly enjoy this conversation because Eric brings the unique balance of experience, like having led companies through three major financial crises and having served in the roles of doer executive board member and investor. So thank you again for joining us on the invisible volt. Please enjoy this inaugural episode with our very special guest Eric Ball. Welcome Eric. Thank you for joining us.

Eric:
Thanks Tom. It’s a lot of fun to be here and also to be part of the inaugural podcast. I’m honored. I think my very first job was not very glamorous. I was hired the summer between my freshman and sophomore year in college as a cashier. At a vegetable and beer store in Troy, Michigan, I would say it was not a crushing amount of senior responsibility, but I did manage a cash register online.

Tom:
How did you decide to follow the career of finance?

Eric:
It is an academic actually. I was going to be an economist and I found myself studying financial markets. Then I left a doctoral program in economics. Because I decided I didn’t want to make a career out of being an academic, but I wanted all that study of financial markets to have been relevant to me. So I decided that I better pursue the financial side of the business. I started in a business unit at AT&T in New Jersey analyzing profitability of large government contracts, but fairly quickly segwayed into treasury. Because treasury was the one spot in the company that I thought and understanding of capital markets might be useful.

Tom:
So in your role in treasury, did you find that you interacted a lot with folks or was it kind of a special ops organization tucked away in the corner?

Eric:
Within AT&T I think it was more the latter. And I think that’s the norm. I think that people in treasury spend more time externally than other people in a finance organization, but they spend less time internally. And it’s almost universal. That treasury becomes a little bit of a silo within its own organization. I found that very stimulating. I spent a lot of time with investment bankers. And rating agencies and other external parties, but not so much time with other people on AT&T finance or even at AT&T and the business units.

Tom:
From AT&T did you move into Oracle or did you follow other companies?

Eric:
I was at AT&T for six years. Then I moved to Los Angeles and joined Avery Dennison. Where I was both in headquarters in Pasadena and back in the UK for five years. So a combination of headquarters work and business unit work. I came up to Silicon Valley in 1999. Spent two years with Cisco systems as an assistant treasurer. Then Flextronics for four years as an assistant treasurer. And then after all that time joined Oracle as its treasurer in 2005. And I was treasurer at Oracle from about 2005 to 2015. So I was at five different big companies before I then moved into being CFO at a pre-public startup in 2015. Did that for a year. And that startup just went public by the way. So, you know, maybe I should’ve stayed, but, uh, I left that in 2016 to launch my own venture firm. I’d been doing venture investing for several years on the side and is managing Oracle’s corporate venture portfolio. And I decided to transition into that full-time in 2016. So for the last four plus years, my primary role has been investing in small startups while also. Doing some extracurricular work, like serving on boards and also proud to be an advisor to Korea

Tom:
The time horizon of what you did as a treasurer must be very, very different than what you’re now doing as a venture capitalist.

Eric:
I think that’s true. I mean treasurers tend to be risk averse and, you know, I was working for really large companies with. A lot happening, but the decision-making process and the outcomes were somewhat slower. Now I work with startups where, you know, we decided to make a change to the business on Monday and we’ve fully executed it by Tuesday. So yeah, it is a little bit of a different attitude toward time.

Tom:
I’m kind of fascinated by the bit before you got to Oracle. Sounds like, Hey, you were at a number of different companies. So you had different experience from different industries and you also spend time in a business unit, and then you spent time in a non-corporate office. I presume, right in the UK, that experience must have really served you well. As you got to Oracle, can you tell us about that time?

Eric:
People earlier in their careers in treasury asked me, what do they need to do to become treasurer? And I usually say, well, the first thing you need to do is spend some time outside of treasury, you know, because I think that any leadership position in a company, particularly a big company, I don’t think it’s always advantageous to have spent your entire career in tha space. I like to say, you know, I joined treasury because I’d studied capital markets, but it was my business unit experience where I learned a little bit about customers and sales and negotiation. My best experience in negotiation came when I was a sales finance consultant for a business in the UK. I tagged along with the general manager of this very small fastener business. He didn’t know anything about capital markets, but he knew a lot about negotiation. And that served me well later when I was putting together deals with investment banks. Is there a secret to negotiating? Well, there is. I’m not sure I know it, but I think just having a clear idea of what you want, what the other party wants and what their next best alternative are. Good place to start.

Tom:
Somebody once said to me that a good negotiation is when both sides feel that they got most of what they wanted, but not all.

Eric:
I think so. Yeah, in a good negotiation, nobody’s happy. You know, I tended to work at companies that were big enough to throw their weight around. And I miss that because now I’m working for the tiny little companies that have no weight to throw around or, or invested in them. I remind them when, when Oracle bought sun Microsystems, they had a massive campus and Oracle decided to sell the campus. And Facebook was the only entity looking for a campus that big and Oracle was the only entity that had a campus that big, both Oracle and Facebook were used to getting what they wanted. And it was an epic battle of a negotiation, but ultimately neither side had an alternative. So they had to reach an agreement.

Tom:
It was like egos were at play there. So what’s interesting. Is that from Oracle, you then went on to become a CFO. Can you tell us a little bit about how the experience of what we talked about earlier, which is that treasurers and the treasury department. In many cases is kind of a standalone doesn’t necessarily interact with other functions in finance. Did you. Change that when you became CFO?

Eric:
Well, yeah, I think that’s true of anybody who gets promoted. It turns out that whatever, you know, well is only a subset of the new job. And so when I became CFO, even though it was a very small organization, Uh, when I became CFO at C3, it only had 130 employees. It was much smaller than Kyriba, but when it came to talking to bankers or investors, I felt like, you know, I was in kind of familiar territory, but when it came to closing the quarterly books or providing a FP and a forecast for the year or other things that was new to me. And the interesting part about having gone to a startup was I couldn’t even delegate. You know, in a big company, I learned if I was managing something, I wasn’t used to just hire somebody who knows what they’re doing and stay out of their way. But, uh, in a startup, there are fewer bodies to lean on. And so I just had to sort of roll up my sleeves and try to learn some new skills in a hurry.

Tom:
What typically is the career path for a CFO? Is treasury a classic sort of stepping stone.

Eric:
I think that it is a path to be CFO. I don’t think it’s the most popular path. I think that that evolves with the needs of the business. I think there have been episodes where it’s been, if you want to be CFO being treasures of the best seat to be in like the 1980s and 1990s. There was a lot of turmoil and currency markets, the ability and the experience of managing foreign exchange was a highly valued skill. And a lot of treasures became CFOs. Then we had accounting scandals, Enron Sarbanes-Oxley like around the year 2000 and financial reporting really became the most critical skill. And a lot of CEOs said, well, if I’m going to hire a CFO, first rule is I don’t want to end up in jail. So I better hire somebody who really knows the controller job. Controllers have really dominated over the last 20 years in terms of job before for CFO role. But I think that’s changing again. And I think that as we get more tools, like the tools that Kyriba provides now we have ERP systems installed with Kyriba tools to manage and track liquidity. I think that a lot of finance professionals. Need to spend less time collecting data and they’re valued more for how well, how they can act on data than simply their ability to play scorekeeper. And with that, I think that, um, the types of people who are becoming CFOs now are those with more of a strategic mindset and less of a score-keeping mindset.

Tom:
You talked about the disruptions and volatility that occurred in the eighties and nineties. Obviously we had a lot of disruption, uncertainty, unpredictability, and volatility that happened last year as a result of the pandemic. Right. What did you see and observe, particularly as it relates to the office of the CFO

Eric:
There’s alot of shifted and a lot of it, depending on what sector you were in. I think that March of last year was kind of a crap moment for CFOs. Well, really everywhere. No one knew initially how the pandemic would affect their industry and their business. Some of it was easy to predict. Some of it was very non intuitive. The S and P 500 stock market index went down by 34% last March, and many companies dropped a lot more than that. Several companies went out to shore up their cash and liquidity and found it hard. United airlines. Was freaking out a little bit and they did a really large bond issuance and had it fail completely. That hadn’t happened in years where a major corporation, very credit worthy had gone out to raise money in the bond market and the deal failed. It also revealed that banks call themselves underwriters. They don’t underwrite. They simply help you market your story on a best efforts basis. So I think it ended up being like September, 2001 or September of 2008, where it was a crisis that forced CFOs to look at cash and liquidity. It also represented an opportunity.

Those that with liquidity could be active in M and a, but even as the stock market recovered, that was uneven at one point, the S and P 500 index was flat, but when it was flat, 80% of the companies in that index were down. It’s just that the other 20% were up so much that it compensated. So the index is headed a massive variance in how firms and industries were fairing. And I think that’s still playing out where, you know, how the pandemic has affected. You depends a lot on what industry you’re in. And I would just make the point that. Crises sometimes hit everybody when nine 11 happened, you know, everybody was hammered by that hotels and airlines more. The tech crash of 2000 was primarily tech. The rest of the world didn’t care so much. The financial collapse effected everybody COVID is a little more selective in its impact. So it’s a little different for everybody.

Tom:
Let’s maybe drill in a little bit on one comment you made, you said that executives found it hard to know what their cash and liquidity position was. Why is that?

Eric:
I think it was a combination of the challenges and knowing what your cash and liquidity position are and on knowing what they are and knowing that they were not what you might hope. So I think liquidity became not about, you know, yeah. Something that, you know, we probably should track. It became, you know, for a lot of folks, the absolute key to survival. And I think that. The concept of liquidity has evolved. I mean, it used to mean cash or potential cash. And now I think it means, you know, being able to pay your bills. And there’ve been some developments that have helped the 2017 tax bill meant that overseas cash was more accessible, uh, without a tax penalty. So companies did not need to keep as much domestic cash on hand because they could access their overseas cash. I think. That liquidity means, knowing your payables and receivables cycle, really understanding the drivers of your working capital and building in the flexibility to optimize your cash.

Cash is a nonproductive asset. It earns a lower return. So the better you manage liquidity, the less cash you need to keep. And I think the better your return on assets becomes. So I think that. 2020 revealed the importance of liquidity, what it actually is, but also the importance of keeping track of what it is and highlighted the usefulness of tools like Kyriba.

Tom:
So the name of this podcast is the invisible ball for that reason. The sense is that there is not the level of visibility. That you would hope to have, and it gets exposed when, you know, the proverbial stuff hits the fan. So this is obviously critical. Do you think that it has changed the mindsets of boards or even the CEO in terms of the importance of having real-time visibility as it were and manageability of liquidity.

Eric:
I do. I mean, I think it’s one of those things that the CFO needs to worry about all the time, but the CEO tends to worry about it only in a crisis or when something goes wrong, you know, and the treasurer worries about it more than more than the CFO. And it’s one of the reasons that I always think of. Treasury’s what I call a negative. Visibility job. You know, the CEO never calls up the treasurer and says, Hey, the paycheck’s cleared this week, you know, good work, you know, but if the paychecks don’t Claire, one week, you can be sure the treasurer is front and center. So it’s a job that’s most visible when something’s going horribly wrong. And I think liquidity is most visible when it isn’t there. And so I think that. For CEOs to appreciate the importance of finance teams and treasury teams. An occasional crisis may be a good thing, but I think that a lot of careers are made in crisis because the spotlight does shine on you and it reveals how prepared or unprepared you were when everything was going.

Tom:
Great. So what about the other side of liquidity? Now, we’ve talked a lot about having this sort of readiness position, right? If, and when things happen, but the other side of having a beat on real-time view of your liquidity is the opportunity to have the confidence to invest in growth initiatives. Is that, is that part?

Eric:
Oh, I think so. I mean, I think there’s an old saying that Raikes, aren’t there for a car to go slow they’re there. So the car can go fast and liquidity. When you’re not paying a lot of attention to liquidity, you need a bigger rainy day stash. So managing your liquidity can actually let you keep less cash and deploy that cash to more useful uses cash in a bank earns 0% or 0.1%. It is a return destroying asset. Cash is only there for an insurance policy for flexibility later or a strategic options later. But while it’s still cash, it’s a terrible asset to have. And so understanding what drives you liquidity and understanding where you can access liquidity helps you keep less of this unproductive asset. You know, when I was at Oracle. When I came in, we had 1100 bank accounts and then we acquired a couple of thousand. So at one point we were closing bank accounts as fast as we could, but still had the total number was still growing and it became this constant fight, but most of those bank accounts were overseas. I would say, okay, all that money comes back to headquarters so we can use the cash in a productive way, but every single country wanted to keep a rainy day fund. Like, Oh, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I need $50 million in the bank. Why do you need $50 million in the bank? Well, you know, in case something happens and if you have 48 business units, each with $50 million in a bank, that’s real money. And so we had to, you know, we basically told them, no, that’s not your money. That’s corporate’s money. So send it to us. And if you have a rainy day, we’ll send it back. We had to persuade people that we meant it when, you know, we’d send it back if it was needed, but that kind of just elemental cash management, let us reduce the amount of just idle cash that was literally earning nothing, least let us get it into one concentrated, centralized bucket where we could invest it. And I think that that similar dynamic plays out in a larger way in terms of deploying cash using it. Strategically for M and a or other assets, or, you know, really turning liquidity into an element of strategy rather than just unproductive asset. Like cash.

Tom:
Say that CFOs are wanting to become more strategic or the right-hand person to the CEO. In terms of enabling the growth initiatives. And I suppose this is a requirement.

Eric:
I think. So how much of that is driven by the CFO? How much of that’s driven by. Treasury or accounts payable, accounts receivable can differ in each company. I think it differs a little bit by size of the company, but there is, there is an important element at cash, rich companies like Oracle. When I was there, you know, in good times, cash was just cash. Was an unproductive asset access to other forms of liquidity was kind of a nice to have whenever a crisis happened. You know, we then viewed cash as a strategic asset because when valuations started dropping for other companies, that’s when we, when we went shopping and we did most of our M and A, when there was blood in the streets and that worked out really well for the company.

Yeah, we had a 105 acquisitions on my watch, which is probably what gave me job security because most of our cash was overseas and it wasn’t productive to repatriate that cash. So I had over 50 billion in cash to manage mostly overseas, but I spent over 50 billion on acquisitions and I had to borrow to do that. So we were at one point the most active bond issuer. In technology, you know, I ended up issuing $52 billion in bonds in my tenure, and they’ve issued it a lot more, even since I left to pay for all those acquisitions and also for share buybacks.

Tom:
So it seems like the forecasting of where liquidity can land becomes really important, but you’re not responsible for modeling the business, right? The FTNA group typically is maybe the controller. It probably depends. So how does that work? Cause they’re doing models. They’re doing projected models current year, future years. How does that inner action work with you?

Eric:
It may differ at different companies for us. Yeah, you’re right. That FP&A. You know, when I was in a big organization like Oracle FP and a model, the forecast for the overall business, having said that I separately, you know, had the assistant treasurer for corporate finance modeling, domestic cash. Don’t tell me what’s going to happen to global revenue and net income. I know that I have more cash than I need outside the U S but everything we spend tends to be in the U S when we buy companies, 98% of the time, they’re us companies. And when we buy back shares, that comes from corporate. So the strain was always the U S cash balance. And so I had treasury. Separately forecast it at a more granular level of deep detail domestic cash. And we fed that in that became an input into FP and a broader process. They had a broader charter of forecasting, but, you know, I always, uh, the first role of a treasurer is to make sure the paychecks don’t bounce and. You know, and you have to forecast domestic cash is I became CFO of a startup forecasting, domestic cash was the FBNA process. At a small startup, almost nothing else matters. Then how are you going to. How are you going to meet payroll? How are you going to keep the lights on? And it’s nice to have projections for everything else, but, you know, I could tell you almost every day exactly. To the penny, how much was in our bank account, because I had to be neurotic about it.

Tom:
Let’s actually go because you must have had some good technology to help you do that. So the topic of that I’d want to shift to now is about the notion of digitization. You’ve seen massive digitization, meaning the impact of technology and supporting revenue sales and supporting a product development and supporting customer experience management, et cetera. But the office of the CFO seems to be one of the last seats at the table, as it relates to. This digital transformation. Is that what you’ve seen in your experience?

Eric:
I mean, Oracle, but it does depend on where you were. I mean, I think that for many companies, digitization started with ERP and I think that’s a really good foundation, you know, ERP provides a single source of truth and it really helps with talking about score-keeping versus strategy. I mean, Digitization, autumn ERP, rather automates score-keeping and maybe frees up the controller to not just spend all their time, trying to find the data. So I think the digitization starting with the ERP was probably a good foundation and its spread FP and a now has tools like, you know, there was a startup company, automating FPA called adaptive insights, which Workday acquired a couple of years back that was trying to. Do for the FP and a function. What ERP did for controllers? I think the treasury and internal audit are probably lagging, but I see even as a venture investor, we have a FinTech startup in capital markets. That’s getting interest from another of venture capital firm that has a specific office of the CFO. Investment practice. So this is a small venture firm in Silicon Valley that is investing in technologies where the customers, the office of the CFO. That’s a long-term bet on digitization in a, in a very fundamental way. Oracle started a digital transformation of the finance function in the late 1990s, which is probably before other people.

Did you know, that was, you know, what the then CFO referred to as she didn’t like the term, um, eating our own dog food. So she called it drinking our own champagne. You know, the monthly close process was brought down to hours instead of days, Oracle developed ERP industry by industry. For customers, most companies said, well, you have to tailor your ERP system to our unique business, to which our founder at Oracle Larry Ellison said, no, actually you should just tailor the business to our ERP to get visibility. And I first, I thought that was, gosh, how arrogant is that? Like, you know, change your whole business to match an accounting vendor. And how they’ve structured it, but I actually became to believe in that because ERP is, is like the nervous system of a company. You don’t want to have to customize it. You don’t want to take years to implement it and have to customize it. You want it to match. And so I actually became a believer at the time that, yeah, maybe you should adapt your organization to match ERP so that you really get that right. Um, and you get that right quickly. I’m sure I’m biased because digitization of at least the ERP component of digitization, uh, paid for my house and my children’s education.

Tom:
Well, that leads me right into our next segment. In order to get that real-time visibility. I mean, what tools. If any are typically relied on.

Eric:
I may not be as current as I used to be. I love treasury five years ago and I left a CFO role about four years ago at Oracle. For instance, we implemented Kyriba in 2013 because, you know, we just founded archaic to try to connect to each bank proprietary system to figure out what our cash balance was each day I would ask for cash balance. Sometimes I would say, I need a break out of cash by bank. I’m selecting a bank for some piece of business. Um, how much of our cash is with each bank? Like I just wanted to know, like 30% of it is with Citibank and 22% of it is B of a whatever. And I found that people couldn’t always tell me, they usually could tell me about us cash, but you know, when I said globally, you know, my people can tell me. So at one point I remember I called Citibank and said, tell me how much to, how much money I have deposited with Citibank worldwide and where it is. And their response was to send an email out to every country and say, tell me how much Oracle has in that country. So. Yeah. Th th that obviously didn’t work. And so we started with tools like Kyriba for real-time cash visibility back in 2013. And when last I checked, Oracle was still using that tool. And so I think that’s a, that’s a good start.

But I think that that’s something that must constantly evolve. You have to keep up. I mean, um, one thing that I say about crises is that so important to have answers, particularly in a crisis, you know, 99% of the time, nobody from the board was calling me to say, Hey, how much cash do you have with Citibank in Thailand? You know, but if there was a coup or a terrible thing in a country then have people like, Hey, how much cash do we have tied up there? And when nine 11 happened, it was embarrassing, but not career threatening to not have answers in a crisis. Like how much are we invested in commercial paper of airlines or hotels because the board members were not getting better answers at their other companies. I think there’s no excuse. Now in 2020, you should know how COVID was impacting your liquidity. When your cash in real time and it’s 2021, you need to know. So I think that it actually using these tools, it’s no longer something that’s nice to do or makes you look good. You better have these answers. And these are the types of questions that get asked more in a crisis than in good times. So you have to spend the good times building up the infrastructure, building up the tools. So when a crisis happens and the CFO or a board member needs information in a hurry, you know what the answers are.

Tom:
So given the importance or growing importance of liquidity, then do you think that there should be someone in charge? Like at that kind of executive level in the same way that there’s a chief product officer or the chief customer experience officer.

Eric:
Yeah, I do. And it gets back to where we started, which is that in finance often the functions are siloed and people don’t want to admit that, that they, you know, don’t pay a lot of attention to their peers. But I think that a common dynamic is. The, you know, treasury is focused on cash. You know, cash is the circulatory system. It’s the blood of a company and that’s treasurer’s focus. Controllers are focused on score-keeping FNA is focused on forecasting. So everybody’s touching a different part of the elephant and it’s always easier to affect change among the people who report to you. Than it is to effect change in other parts of the organization. And that’s just a natural element of organizational life and liquidity elements of liquidity are purely in the treasurer’s purview, but elements of it cut across all of finance, you know, really understanding your payables cycle, your receivable cycle, your working capital that’s all necessary, and that cuts across different reporting lines. Somebody has to look holistically across those lines. Everybody can’t just be looking down at their own function. And so I think there does have to be a chief liquidity officer if you will. And that person may be the CFO. And even if they’re not the CFO, The importance of that in the direction to work cross-functionally to make that work has to come from the CFO. If the CFO doesn’t make it a priority, it’s not going to happen. Regardless of whether it’s the CFO, that’s the chief liquidity officer, or they want somebody else to play that role.

Tom:
Managing that change is going to be a challenge. Let’s do a quick report from the future as it were. And then I want to do some quick hits with you. Let’s start with this one. If we brought you back here a year from now, what will have changed in the world of finance?

Eric:
Overall time periods. I think CFOs are going to spend less time collecting information and more time acting on it. They’re going to have more information available in real time and rely less on the financial statements from the last quarter in effect financial statements should be generated almost in real time, just like any other day. Finance leaders have to know where their cash is, how much of it is accessible on short notice, what’s their ability to increase liquidity in other ways, do they have access to the bond market, commercial paper, credit facilities? Can they tweak accounts, payable and receivable to improve working capital? All of that? Needs to be more true in 12 months than it is today. You know, this is a treadmill you’re never done. You know, you never get to declare victory. You just get to have a better handle on it faster than you did before. And like I said, 20 years ago, if you didn’t have the answer as well, that’s okay. The board member asking their company didn’t have the answer better today. Their company probably does have the answer. So you’re not going to be allowed Slack if you don’t right.

Tom:
A couple of quick questions. What’s the craziest or most interesting items someone brought to you for your signature?

Eric:
I’ve had a couple of doozies. I’ll quickly mention too when I was an assistant treasurer. At a contract manufacturing company, a truckload of Intel chips that were the heart of video game consoles that we were making for a customer being produced to Guadalajara, a truckload of Intel chips worth over $20 million was hijacked from the Guadalajara airport. And what was interesting is they actually ran two trucks. They ran a decoy empty decoys truck and the truck that was filled with the chips and the bad guys knew which truck had the chips. So it made us a little bit neurotic about where they were getting their information.

I was approached to sign an authorization for $20,000 in cash. Somebody was going to withdraw $20,000 in cash. I needed to sign for it. I’m like, why? Oh, cause we’re going to post a reward for this information for this chip hijacking. I’m like, okay. So I signed, I signed this and the enforcement was going to arrive the next day and tell our security consultant what happened to the chips when he didn’t show up because he’d been killed. Intervening 24 hours. You know, I’m just a finance guy back in a corner, in a headquarters office. I’m authorizing cash, which is very unusual and the cash is supposed to go to somebody who dies within 24 hours of violently at the, uh, you know, with gangs and in Mexico. That really made an impact on me.

One other quick story. Somebody came to me and said, you’ll sign this. We need to pay people in Greece. This was 2008 when the financial crisis was hitting and the government of Greece had closed as an emergency measure, closed every bank in Greece. And none of our employees, we had, you know, I don’t know, a hundred employees and Greece, none of them could get paid. They didn’t have direct deposit. And so they couldn’t get their paycheck. And these are not people with a lot of savings. And so we felt like we’re their employer. We need to make sure they can get paid. So, you know, somebody said, We’re going to fill a suitcase full of cash. Take a helicopter into Greece and distribute the cash to the employees sign here.

I was asking questions like who’s carrying the cash. Are they big? Are they muscular? If you start asking for the physical build of somebody involved in a process, uh, that was a real, I was like, wait a minute. If I have to ask whether the employee doing this is tall and muscular, we need to rethink what we’re doing here. We did not fill a suitcase full of cash and then have somebody carry it into the country. And we, uh, We’ve worked out some other ways of going about that.

Tom:
All right. It sounds like we need to make a movie out of that. The next born, uh, you know, supremacy or something. All right. Eric, thank you very much for your time. This was really enlightening and a lot of fun. Thank you for being our guests on the first inaurgural invisible vault podcast.

Eric:
Thanks Tom. It’s been a real pleasure to join you today and thanks for having me here.

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