While it seems like nearly every 15-year-old with a computer has her own blog, the cultural phenomenon hasn't been conspicuous among finance folk. But now they may finally be joining the conversation.
In August, Tom Berquist, CFO of open-source database firm Ingres Corp., launched "On the Line," a blog intended to "share war stories and lessons about being the CFO of a technology company." Berquist, who spent 10 years as a research analyst on Wall Street, says the blog is a powerful investor-relations tool. So far, the site's visitors, which he estimates at anywhere from 50 to 200 a day, have been mostly investors and employees. "I always thought telling a story was the best way to communicate, compared with a PowerPoint presentation, which tends to be a little clinical," he says.
Visitors won't find ramblings about Berquist's taste in music or favorite movies, however. The blog, which is supported by Ingres, provides insights on the revenue model, pricing, and product mix of the company. He also talks about his own views on investing and risk. To avoid selective-disclosure issues, he doesn't talk about the company's numbers or future projections.
Berquist, who tries to post at least once a week, was surprised by how many employees read his blog. "It's great for educating them on how the company's finances work," he says. He also posts comments from employees and other readers.
Other CFOs who blog include Spencer Rascoff, CFO of Zillow.com, a real estate-information site. He writes about his experiences as a start-up CFO. Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun Microsystems, maintains one of the most well-known executive blogs. Called simply "Jonathan's Blog," it averages 400,000 hits a month. Then, of course, there's the CFO blog of blogs, "Ron's Rant," which can be found at www.cfo.com.
Berquist says it is only a matter of time before more CFOs enter the blogosphere: "It's just too powerful a communication tool to ignore." — Joseph McCafferty
Executives in the Blogosphere
Wear It Loud, Wear It Proud
There have been some indications that accounting is back in favor as a career. Now there's solid proof: "Future Accountant" T-shirts have lately been spotted on college campuses and elsewhere.
The shirts are part of an apparel line from Sacramento-based My Calling. Launched about a year ago, the online retailer is the brainchild of Matt Brickley, a 30-year-old who formerly worked in "cultural resource management." The company specializes in tributes to professions, ranging from acting to wildlife biology — 300 occupations in all — in T-shirt form. Shirts and other paraphernalia for the accounting profession rank among Brickley's top-15 sellers (and are outselling CFO-specific shirts 5 to 1).
Does this mean that accounting is suddenly sexy? It's hard to say; such glamorous fields as counseling, engineering, social work, and architecture are also hot sellers.
"T-shirts are a form of self-expression," says Brickley — and everyone knows accountants can sometimes use a little help in that area. So for a mere $19.99, they can get a "Trust Me, I'm An Accountant" T-shirt or the aforementioned "Future Accountant." If anybody really wants to challenge the profession's stereotypes, shirts emblazoned with "Accountants appreciate a good figure" are available for about the same price. The items are sold only through www.CafePress.com, and the messages can be put on everything from hoodies to thongs. — Lori Calabro