603: All Eyes on Recovery Indicators| John Bonney, CFO, Harness


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When John Bonney joined San Francisco–based Harness a little more than a year ago, he became not only the company’s first CFO but also its first finance hire.

“For me, this was the first time that I came into a role with a blank slate—it was at Ground Zero,” explains Bonney, who says that the software start-up specializing in the automation of software applications delivery had theretofore been outsourcing its finance, legal and IT functions.

Initially, he recalls, he was somewhat doubtful that he was good match for such an early-stage firm—and especially one with such meager internal operations.

However, he became intrigued by the challenge that Harness CEO Jyoti Bansal put before him.

Looking back, Bonney says that he knew that “we could become really big, and here was a chance to set the foundation right.”

Within 5 months, Bonney relates, he had fielded a team of roughly eight people, including a controller, an FP&A leader, and department heads for legal and IT.

“Generally, when companies are really small, it doesn’t always make financial sense to have people in-house, but as you grow to 100 people and beyond, what you quickly begin to experience are bottlenecks impacting responsiveness to IT needs or legal bills that are beginning to balloon,” explains Bonney, who adds that positions outside the finance realm were filled first, with the FP&A hire a more recent addition to the team.

Says Bonney: “When a company has raised capital and the question becomes ‘Where do you put that capital?,’ the CFO and FP&A team have to impact this and monitor it.”

Meanwhile, as Harness scales, the company has prioritized the use of new applications and technologies to perform work traditionally completed by back office hires. For example, Bonney says, Harness did not hesitate to adopt applications vendor Airbase of San Francisco to manage its companywide credit card spending and expense management.

Asked to reflect on his first year as CFO of Harness and his Ground Zero “to do” list. Bonney quips: “12 months gone by in a blink of an eye.” –Jack Sweeney

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