Zulily just hooked one of Seattle’s best known high-tech CFOs, a possible sign of big things to come at the daily deal site for baby products. Michael Vernon, the former chief financial officer at aQuantive and Zumobi, plans to take over the CFO duties at Zulily after 18 months leading finance at Seattle’s Big Fish Games, GeekWire has learned.
Zulily CEO Darrell Cavens confirmed the hiring of Vernon as CFO, but he declined to offer more details about the company’s growth plans or business outlook. There’s probably a reason why Cavens, a former Blue Nile executive, is keeping things pretty close to the vest.
The daily deal space is intensely competitive right now. And the scuttlebutt I am hearing around town is that Zulily is absolutely firing on all cylinders, now more than 100 people strong and driving significant revenue through the business. From what I’ve heard, the company is bursting at the seams at its Pioneer Square headquarters. (The company’s jobs page currently lists 14 open positions).
Cavens tells GeekWire that he’s been “very focused on the business,” which means he may not want to tip off competitors about the success.
And because of that, Vernon’s hiring is especially interesting. Could Zulily — formed a little more than 18 months ago — be positioning itself for an initial public offering?
The hiring of a big-name CFO sometimes is a signal, and there was speculation about IPO plans when Vernon joined Big Fish Games in October 2009. Zulily raised $6 million from August Capital and Maveron last summer, adding to a $4.6 million round shortly after it was formed in 2009.
Vernon does have experience running the finance operations of big, publicly-traded tech companies, serving as CFO of aQuantive from 2000 to 2006. Microsoft bought the online advertising company in 2007 for $6 billion, the largest acquisition in the software giant’s history.
Now, Vernon has moved from online ads to casual games to private sales of baby products.
Big Fish Games CEO Jeremy Lewis said that the company is “especially grateful” to Vernon for his contributions. The Seattle company has named COO John Holland as interim CFO, something that Lewis said is “a natural adjustment as we prepare Big Fish for a very exciting new life stage.”