The Backbone — Episode 23: Learnings from Raising/Exiting $700M+ in Deal Value for Software + Hardware and the Importance of a People-First Approach in Finance

David Brennan, Chief Financial Officer at Ecobee

On this episode of The Backbone I chat with David Brennan, Chief Financial Officer at Ecobee.

Joining me on this episode of the Backbone is David Brennan, Chief Financial Officer at Ecobee — a leader in the Internet of Things (IoT) industry and the evolution of the helpful home. The company introduced the world’s first smart Wi-Fi thermostat to help millions of consumers live better and save more. Ecobee’s mission is to create smarter devices that are beautifully designed, easy to use and provide savings for families, while being good for our planet.

David has over 30 years of experience as a senior executive in many high growth companies and before ecobee was the General Manger at Achievers, and lead the company’s US$110M acquisition by Blackhawk Network. He is an experienced finance executive with a proven record of successfully growing companies through venture capital funding, IPOs, mergers and acquisitions.

David is passionate about the people behind the work: thinking up the best ways to recruit, engage, and retain top talent and is currently writing a book titled “People First, Results Follow”. He earned his Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Prince Edward Island and is a Chartered Professional Accountant.

On this episode of The Backbone, I chat with David about:
  1. What he attributes to being a part of many technology success stories and the advice he’d impart on finance leaders. (David was the VP Finance at PixStream — a company that sold to Cisco for $369M and prior to Ecobee was the CFO at Achievers — a company that was acquired by BlackHawk Networks for $110M.)
  2. The biggest difference between software and hardware technology companies and how it effects the capital raise or acquisition process? (David has raised capital from prestigious firms like Sequoia and Amazon. He’s also exited various technology companies to the likes of Cisco and Blackhawk Network. He’s been a part of raises/exits over $700M US in deal value!)
  3. What Ecobee is all about, and how it became a global brand in home automation.
  4. About his passion towards people and their role in organizations; why its important in scaling organizations and why he cares so deeply about it as the finance leader?
  5. The importance of the finance function at a technology company.

We close things off with a quickfire round:

  • Your go to online resource for all things startup finance related
  • Your favourite productivity hack
  • Tech jargon that makes you cringe
  • The best advise you’ve received
  • One thing you don’t leave the office before finishing
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Check out previous episodes of The Backbone

Episode 22: Raising $47M from Strategic vs Traditional VC & the Level of Finance Leader to Hire at Each Stage of a Company’s Evolution w/ Danielle Cerisano, VP Finance at League

Episode 21: Using Analytics and Predictive Models to Improve Budgeting + the Role of Attribution in Assessing Digital Marketing ROI w/ Emma Lyndon, CFO at Canopy Labs

Episode 20: Considerations for CAC and Churn in a Self-Serve Pricing Model w/ Matt Dove, VP Finance at Celtx

Episode 19: The Journey of Raising $100M ICO (Initial Coin Offering) as a Venture-Backed Unicorn w/ Brandon Brunet, Controller at Kik

Episode 18: Bootstrapped to $12M Series A & What it Means for the Finance Function w/ Jennifer Pollock, Director of Finance & Operations at RateHub

Episode 17: The Added Complexities of Hardware Tech Companies & How to Price a New Medical Device w/ Travis Phung, Director of Finance & Administration at Exact Imaging

Episode 16: Monetizing a Free Product & Navigating Complexities of the Financial Services Space w/ Brian Wu, Finance Lead at Borrowell

Episode 15: Serving the Restaurant Industry & Breaking Into Tech in a Finance Capacity w/ Rob Curcio, Director of Finance at TouchBistro

Episode 14: Scaling the Finance Function, Fundraising, Making Acquisitions & Operationalizing Metrics w/ Ryan Magee, Chief Financial Officer at Cority

Episode 13: Serving the SMB Market at a Publicly Traded Software Company vs a High-Growth Startup w/ Darren Wood, Director of Finance & Operations at Jobber

Episode 12: Leading Finance at NPOs to High Growth Tech & Bootstrapping vs Raising Venture Capital w/ Anthony Scolaro, VP Finance & Operations at Lucova

Episode 11: Raising $17M Series A Round & What it Means to be ‘Venture-Backed w/ Frank Jessop, Director of Finance, Sensibill

Episode 10: Vendor Selection Considerations & Viewing the Finance Function from an Engineering Perspective w/ Gerti Dervishi, VP Finance at Flybits

Episode 9: The Process of Acquiring Companies as a Startup & Best Practices for Investor Relations w/ Ryan Levenberg, VP Finance at Q4 Systems Inc.

Episode 8: Raising VC Funding to Executing an $110M Acquisition + Demystifying the Progressive Roles of the Finance Leader within a Startupw/ Dwayne Walker, CFO at LookbookHQ

Episode 7: Going Through an Acquisition of an eCommerce Company & Keeping Both Sides of a Marketplace Happy w/ Elena Armstrong, Co-Founder & VP Finance at Exact Media

Episode 6: From Finance to Founding an IoT Startup & Bootstrapping vs. Raising Venture Capital w/ Sacha Sawaya, Co-Founder and CFO at Litmus Automation

Episode 5: Difference Between Being an Advisor vs Finance Leader for Tech Startups & When to Raise Capital w/ Eugene Bomba, CFO & VP Operations at ThoughtWire

Episode 4: Transitioning from Professional Services to Finance Leader of Pre-Revenue Tech Startup w/ Chris Parkes, CFO at NuraLogix

Episode 3: Why Finance & Operations go Together & Dealing with the Highly Regulated Financial Services Industry w/ Leen Li, Head of Finance at Wealthsimple

Episode 2: How Finance Scales Growing from 25 to 200+ Employees & Transfer Pricing w/ Les Cullen, Director Finance & Operations at TopHat

Episode 1: Managing Churn & Being Private Equity Backed w/ Daniel Israelsohn, VP Finance & Operations at Firmex


The Backbone is a podcast hosted by Shubham Datta, that explores the journey inside finance at a startup. Each episode features a finance leader (Director/VP, Finance or CFO) that:

  • shares their story of how they entered the world of startups,
  • explains what their company does
  • describes unique challenges he/she faces in their role
  • shares expertise relating to specific topics on the mind of finance leaders