Editor in Chief (interim) AccountingWEB
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BlackLine founder and CEO takes a back seat

Therese Tucker, the founder and CEO of BlackLine, is handing over the reins of the cloud-based consolidation software specialist to the company’s current president, Marc Huffman.

19th Aug 2020
Editor in Chief (interim) AccountingWEB
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BlackLine founder Therese Tucker to step down as CEO
Therese Tucker_BlackLine

Founded in 2001, BlackLine went public in 2016, making Tucker one of the first founder-CEOs of a listed tech company. News of the executive changes emerged alongside quarterly results showing an $8.3m loss on revenues of $83.3m for the three months to 30 June 2020.

At its current share price of $75 (down around 15% since the results announcement), BlackLine is valued at $4.3bn, making Tucker’s personal holding worth several hundred million dollars.

As part of a managed transition, Huffman will take over the top job on 1 January 2021, with Tucker taking on the role of executive chair, “a position in which she will continue to shape the future of the company she has built from the ground up”, according to John Brennan, chairman of the board at BlackLine.

The idea for BlackLine’s specialist consolidation and reconciliation tools came when an early customer asked for help automating their monthly close process. As a “bootstrapped” startup, if someone offers to pay you to do something, you say, “Hell, yeah,” Tucker told Inc. magazine.

That request played to her experience as a software developer working with financial and treasury systems and opened up a niche that allowed her company to disrupt a heavily paper-based discipline. The company now boasts it works with than 3,100 customers in 130 countries and counts half of the 50 top-valued global companies in that portfolio.

International expansion

After opening up a UK office in 2013 with support from private equity investors, Tucker told AccountingWEB about the company’s evolution from those early startup days.

“We started with account reconciliation, then moved on to checklists and variance controls, transaction matching, manual journals, tasks (checklists) and to-do lists,” she told AccountingWEB.

At most period ends, consolidation systems need to track all journal postings and adjustments back to ensure they tie into the final consolidation. “The common feature of these processes is they’re things people do badly with spreadsheets in a poorly controlled fashion,” Tucker said.

The 2007-8 financial meltdown and the regulatory response stimulated demand for BlackLine’s products as auditors targeted spreadsheet-based financial controls.

“Until Sarbanes-Oxley came along, nobody focused on reconciliation. But after that, the manual way was not sustainable.” Tucker explained.

Huffman, meanwhile, joined BlackLine in early 2018 as chief operating officer and was promoted to president in February 2020, where he has been responsible for leading the company’s worldwide sales, marketing, technology and customer-facing activities.

While bringing an end to her career as a breaker of Silicon Valley’s glass ceiling for female tech company founders and CEOs, Tucker told Forbes magazine that the new role will allow her to leave behind the administrative stuff she hates to focus on the product.

“I still think this company has not even begun to achieve its full potential. If I thought we were just coasting from here on out, I’d be bored and I’d leave,” she said.

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