Chris Thomajan has been a CFO for over 30 years in a variety of industries, including: biotech, medtech, software, digital media, Internet services and investment banking.
Chris was a founding partner of America’s Growth Capital, a boutique investment bank focused on emerging growth technology companies. He was the early stage CFO/VP Operations for Asurion Corporation which is a closely held, multi-billion-dollar private company. He was also the founding CFO for a pioneering Internet company, Delphi Internet Services, which was acquired by News Corporation in 1993.
Since joining TechCXO in 2007, Chris has worked with outstanding companies such as Cyteir Therapeutics (CYT – IPO in 2021), Decibel Therapeutics (DBTX – IPO in 2021), Relay Therapeutics (RLAY – IPO in 2020), Keros Therapeutics (KROS – IPO in 2020), Mashable, Mascoma Corp., Adheron (acquired by Roche in 2015), Catabasis Pharmaceuticals (CATB – IPO in 2015), and Ektron (acquired by Accel/KKR in December 2014). Current clients include Valenza Biotech, QurAlis Corporation and EnClear Therapies.
Chris has extensive experience in raising debt and equity. He has also been involved in numerous M&A transactions and has managed the operations of several start-up companies during rapid revenue growth. He received a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.B.A. from Columbia University.
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CEOs are Like Fine Wines
During my 30+ years as a CFO, I’ve worked directly with roughly one hundred CEOs. They are a unique and fascinating breed and over the years, I’ve started to discern some patterns and have tried to segment them into categories. Using the analogy of fine wines, below is a short and wholly unscientific compendium of the personalities you are likely to find in the corner office.
Beaujolais Nouveau – aka the first-time CEO
These CEOs are relatively light in terms of experience but make up for it with their can-do attitudes. They are often the founders of their companies and may have been thrust into the role by default. As with the producers of the young wine, they may race to get their products and services out to the market, sometimes before they are ready (sacré bleu!). Beaujolais nouveau is a wine that celebrates the harvest, and these (often young) CEOs are avid cheerleaders and find ways to celebrate wins with their teams. Best paired with a strong C-Suite or Executive Board member to mentor and lend credibility.
Rosé – aka the sales-oriented CEO
These CEOs range from the light and frivolous to the structured and complex. They’ve had success in the sales function and bring a competitive, goal-oriented approach to their jobs. With notes of hubris and aromas of exaggeration, these CEOs can be highly successful leaders. Much like the wine that can be drunk at any time of day or night (please don’t judge my day drinking tendencies) the Rosé CEO is a hard charger and ready for all challenges. Best paired with a strong CFO/COO who can apply some discipline and realism to the company’s business plan.
Chardonnay – aka the engineering or scientific CEO
Deep sector experts and often polymaths, these CEOs come in a broad range of skills and talents. They are well balanced and sometimes too smart for their own good (think too much oak or buttery taste). The Chardonnay CEOs are confident, well respected and have been aged on the frontlines of their industries. They do not have long shelf lives because the very attributes that make them successful (deep knowledge of the science or technology) also mean they will struggle to delegate and take a broader view of the business. They are meant to be drunk early. Best paired with outward-focused executives such as business development or sales.