Emmanuel Thomassin is the CFO of Delivey Hero, one of the world’s leading online food delivery platforms. He has been the CFO since 2014 and led the company through its successful €1bn IPO on the Frankfurt stock exchange in 2017. Since then, Delivery Hero have continued leading the charge in food delivery globally, using the listing as a catalyst to fund important acquisitions and continue growing the organization.
With Emmanuel, we discuss important elements surrounding the IPO process from the company perspective: preparation and benefits of preparation for an IPO, the rationale for going public, considerations around listing location, and post-listing dangers and pitfalls.
Disclaimer: this discussion is not financial advice, nor an investment recommendation, nor a sollicitation to buy or sell any financial instruments, or an offer for financial services or any other transaction. The information contained in the recording have no contractual value and are destined for an informational purposes only. Amundsen Investment Management and the participants on this podcast may have holdings in the companies being discussed.
Per: In this episode, we talk with Emmanuel Thomassin who has been the Chief Financial Officer of DeliveryHero for the last 10 years. In 2017, he listed the company in Germany together with CEO Niklas Ostberg in a €1 billion IPO. Since then, they have continued leading the charge in food delivery in Europe, Asia, and South America, using the listing as a catalyst to continue acquisitions and hiring.
Per: Emmanuel will share with us the experience as a CFO of a high-growth listed tech company, the choice of listing versus staying private at the time, the intrinsic value of structuring the company around the IPO, and the importance of taking care of your physical health in the process.
Per: Before we start, we would like to remind our listeners that our discussion is not financial advice, nor an investment recommendation, nor a solicitation to buy or sell any financial instruments, or an offer for financial services or any other transaction. The information contained in the recording has no contractual value and are just for informational purposes only. Amundsen Investment Management and the participants in this podcast may have holdings in the companies being discussed.
Gautier: Thank you very much, Emmanuel Thomassin, CFO of DeliveryHero, you’re here with us today on the show. Thank you very much for coming here. Maybe I should let you introduce yourself, please.
Emmanuel Thomassin: Well, thank you very much Gautier, and then thank you very much for having me today. Well, in a nutshell, I’m French by nationality but I’ve been living more than 35 years in Germany. I consider myself a bicultural, at least. I enjoy life in the French way. I love food. I love jokes. I love France. I love to be entertained but I think when I work, we work the German way. For me it’s like if you give a date, if you give a timeline, I want to do everything to respect it. For me, it’s very important point.
Gautier: You think the French don’t respect the timeline, is what you just said? [laughs]
Emmanuel: No, we’re flexible. That’s the thing. The German are not flexible, but they will respect the timeline because it’s like the timeline is timeline. Don’t expect me to be delivering two days before. We as a French people, if you call me and say, “Hey, do you see a possibility to maybe deliver two days before?” We will try to find a way. I try to have both but I’m very German the way I work, I must say. I need an agenda, I need to know what the meeting is all about, I need to know what come next and everything.
I’m living in Germany, in Berlin. For the last 10 years, I’ve been the CFO of DeliveryHero, which was like a beautiful adventure. Not a walk in the park but [laughs] beautiful adventure with a lot of learnings.
Gautier: What is the history of DeliveryHero? Please remind us.
Emmanuel: DeliveryHero was the first platform that we founded. DeliveryHero is about online food delivery platform. We started at the marketplace in 2010 in Germany. This is the first opcode that we founded, it was in Germany, it was all about marketplace. Very simplistically, listing restaurants on the platform, and you connect with customers, and every time transaction is happening, you just get a commission. Very simple, straightforward and that was to find intern.
The company was called Lieferheld and why I mentioned this is because this is a translation of DeliveryHero in German. Liefer mean delivery and held means hero. The first name was not DeliveryHero, but the German name called Lieferheld. Then we translated this to English a year after. The year after, this is where the DeliveryHero as a holding, if you wish, was created.
Gautier: We’re in 2011, then?
Emmanuel: 2011. Very early on, we started first to do contribution in the German business and then we started to do M&A. It was really looking at growing extremely fast, organically, but also through acquisitions, and that’s the starting point, I would say for DeliveryHero. First focusing on certain European transactions, and then very quickly going abroad to become a very international business, but the starting point was really 2010, 2011 in Berlin, in Germany, and I mention this because in Germany, there were so many startups at that time that became very famous and you could say Oliver Zamwer and his brothers had a massive impact on the evolution of the economy here in Berlin, and especially the startup environment.
Gautier: Okay, then six years after June 2017, the company IPOed in Germany, right?
Gautier: What was the rationale at the time?
Emmanuel: What the rationale was about the industry itself. You had already two companies that were listed. The first one was GrubHub, the second one was Takeaway. It was like an industry that at that time was considered as not a pioneer anymore, but the big potential in order to access capital fast when we was to become listed. We had the chance that basically the business model was understood, people saw the trajectory of this business.
Again, you have to keep in mind that was mainly a marketplace business. I think that’s important also to understand the story after because marketplace business, well understood, Takeaway was making a nice profit in Holland. GrubHub was doing the same in the US. It was a decision that now it’s a moment where you can have a very good traction, where investors understand your story, you don’t have to be the first, and we decide to go out mainly to access proceeds and capital. That was a decision at that time, it was very successful also.
Gautier: Proceeds for growth, nothing to do with the leveraging?
Emmanuel: No, it was really proceeds for growth. As I said, we were looking at acquisitions, and the idea was, let’s get the proceeds, there will be still some targets to require and at that time, as we started the IPO process, the so-called on-delivery part of the business was very tiny, and which was late ’15, ’16, we started to think, “Well, but we are marketplace business, should we go more on-delivery, and how big can on-delivery be?”
That question is the central question around the IPO but then also after, because at IPO, we had a projection about what will be delivered over the next two years, the profitability of the company, which was based mainly on the notion to be a marketplace with a little bit of on-delivery. Why I mention this is because the marketplace business is a very high profitable business, both on gross profit. You will have gross profit margin above 90%, and then at some point, if you do a marketplace after five years, you should be profitable and if you’re not, then you have a problem with the operation.
You should look at your operations. When you do on-delivery, then you postpone the profitability by a lot. We have to invest massively. The gross profit margin is by far. We come to a place later on where you do the same profit by order in absolute terms, but the margin is smaller, and you have to put a very complex system in place. That was not clear to us, to be honest. We knew, okay, we will have to do some on-delivery, but the proportion of it was unclear.
Gautier: Before the IPO if I remember, you did a private round with Naspers at the time, just ahead of the IPO. You always had that option to stay private for longer with your current owners. Why again, not staying just private for longer? I know for some years it’s been a thematic, capital was cheap as well. No point to IPO if you’re actually supported by your investor base?
Emmanuel: Yes, you’re absolutely right. Naspers came pretty late. Actually, it was you could see them as an anchor investor, but we had two interactions before. They were coming to us looking at the company and fooled that at that time, twice before that the company valuation was too high. Afterwards, obviously, it would have been better for them to come on board earlier. The due diligence was happening, if I’m not mistaken in March or April, and they came they invest end of April, and we went IPO in June, which has a very positive impact, because they thought such a due diligence.
Everyone knew okay, well Naspers is getting on board, they will have done the due diligence and yes, we had a prospectus so we prepared a prospectus but in a lot of cases, people consider a look, it was the largest investments ever done by Naspers. They really spent a month to look at every single detail of the company. It was not only the financial impact to anchor investors, but also the quality of the investors that you were getting on board was very positive for the company.
Why did we decide to go public? Looking back at that time, it seems this is a logical thing to do. The company, if you look at the prospectus, was going to be profitable very soon, let’s raise money, let’s have a strong balance sheet, and we are on the path to become profitable because of the marketplace notion that I mentioned before, versus on-delivery, and then we will access capital. It was logical things to do. Looking back, you could have taken a different option, quite frankly.
Knowing what we know now, maybe you would have taken a different way, but at that time, it really seemed like the logical step to do for all of us. For the shareholders for the board and also for the management board of companies, and this is the right time, the market is there, the business is understood, the trajectory is understood, and that was a very successful IPO, as you remember, it was very, very successful, both, I would say in the quantity, the proceeds and the valuation of the company, but almost most important from my point of view, and it’s very funny for CFO to say, the quality. The quality at that time, the quality of the engagement of the relationship that we had was also very, very positive.
Gautier: You say maybe you would have done things differently with a bit more insight today. What happened? What do you mean by that?
Emmanuel: Well, what happened in this industry is that all of a sudden people understood that you could be extremely profitable with this business. You can scale it far beyond probably what people imagined at that time. If I take an example of today, if you look at South Korea doing 100 million orders for 52 million inhabitants today. You understand the magnitude of this business, and we’re far from being finished. We’ll continue to grow in that business.
After the IPO, people realized, wow, this is a massive, massive business and this is growing. If you look at certain markets like Sweden, we’re still growing by 30% year on year after almost 20 years. It’s something that will go on where you have a stable business, predictable business, and that’s not so many. This is a very fundamental need for human beings. You need to eat, you have very strong cohorts, and not that the sudden people will ask this and then funding became even larger.
What we thought was a bigger financing round at that time. We’ve done an IPO at 1.2 billion. All of a sudden, companies that were still private were doing financing around that was beyond what we could have imagined before. Knowing this, it’s easier to say it now, but one option would have said, “Okay, we stay private, we raise more money in order to continue to consolidate this market, and maybe to do further M&A with larger tickets. At that time we thought certain ticket size won’t be impossible.
Gautier: The benefit of the IPO gave you the currency to do with that M&A?
Emmanuel: Exactly, that’s right. It also gives you the credibility. You have a lot of positive impact, to be quite frank. The first one is in the maturity of the company to make sure that you’re ready to do an IPO, if you do it or not, have a lot of quality. It forced the company to have certain processes in place. It forced the company to have a certain discipline, to be in control. I think there’s a lot of value in that, because otherwise, a startup can be also going a little bit soft. If you don’t pay attention, certain things that are, I understand for a lot of CEOs, not important, but the VAT declaration is not an option. You have to do it. Income statement filing is not an option, you have to do it. Certain things you have to, and if the company is not well structured or disciplined and don’t do it, then the company will face unnecessary issues.
That’s why to be IPO-ready, you have a lot of value and also protect the company, the assets, the employees, and also the investors. Here I’m thinking about putting control in place so that you avoid fraud. This is also happening. I think there’s a lot of value in that. The second thing for IPOs, or to be IPO-ready or to do IPO is, that you attract talent that you probably won’t attract otherwise.
Here I’m thinking about people that are about to become partners or partners in big four companies that have a certain career already that are 40 and ask themselves, what is my next step? If you’re a startup and you were not well-structured or not IPO-ready, you will need a lot of arguments to attract these people, because they will consider the risk and say, “Look, for my career, do I do these steps or not?”
Once you IPO or you’re on the way to do IPO, to be listed, then you become very attractive for this profile. Then at the same time, it gives a lot of credibility to the company, but also a lot of experience, and you will be making a big step in terms of maturity.
Gautier: Do you think you need to be profitable as well? Because I remember when you did your IPO, you guided the market that you would be a bit of a break-even two years after the IPO. At the same time, you were guiding the market that you would grow 20%, to 30%. What happened, you actually grow 75% per annum. It’s been, as you said, just an amazing growth story. Obviously, profitability has actually been delayed. You mentioned you’ve done me investment in delivery, maybe pushing back this break-even point.
Again, do you think being non-profitable is fine for a growth company today, thinking about IPOing or not? How difficult it is to manage the market in that sense?
Emmanuel: Yes, that’s a very good one. If you consider today, it’s almost impossible to get to the state and not being profitable today in 2022, 2023. I think the valuation will suffer massively if you’re not profitable and almost also free cash flow positive. These two criteria are very, very important as of today, if you want to get a good valuation. I think that’s the reason why you don’t see a lot of IPO happening those days. I think there’s a lot of good companies, but they don’t. They would consider to go IPO, but they’re not there in terms of profitability, and they will suffer from the valuation. Today, I would think this is almost a must. Not only that you can show and demonstrate your business model and make sure that people understand your trajectory, but you have to be profitable and free cash flow positive. Otherwise, as I said, your proceeds or your valuation would be very, very diminished. Then you should stay private, especially if you’re really certain about your business model and trajectory.
As we put the perspectives together, we’ve been absolutely certain about the trajectory of the DeliveryHero. The decision to go on delivery at that time was not an easy one. Because first of all, you put this in a prospectus, the investors are people that we trust, that we like, that they trust us. To take into decision was not an easy one. You postpone, as you said, profitability. At the same time, if we would have not taken this decision, which was a really difficult one, we have long, long debates and considerations, then I think we would have been in a very, very difficult situation today. Once I was saying to a CFO, a very senior CFO of the group is like, you can not not do delivery. We love marketplace because as a CFO, you’re profitable and it makes your life much easier, but you cannot not do it. If you don’t do it, someone else will do it and will disrupt you.
It was really postponing the profitability, but I think at the end, from the long term, I think it was the right decision even if it’s very painful. To come back to your question, today to do an IPO, I think you have to be profitable or very, very close to it. When I say that, it’s like, you really have to say, “Look, in the next one or two quarters, the trajectory is so clear that we’re going to be profitable and we’re going to be cashflow positive very on.” You should not depend on the financial market.
Gautier: You should not depend on the financial market, but actually, are you also taking advantage of the financial market because if we look at your share price and your market capitalization, it’s been up and down and sometimes really high up. With a lot of value put in the business. You as a CFO, do you see it as a signal that, okay, maybe it’s time to actually use a capital market, raise equity? I know you’ve been quite active in convertible bonds as well, in the bond market as well. You’ve actually have been pretty smart and agile around using capital markets.
Being listed, does it actually offer you more opportunities from that sense? Are you taking advantage of that volatility and valuation the market gives you?
Emmanuel: I won’t say we take advantage of the volatility because, in a lot of cases, you’re not in control of that. That your share price is dropping by 70%. I think it was not only the case for DeliveryHero. Anyone that will tell you I was expecting this to happen early 2022, I would have difficulties to believe him. I think no one was expecting such a drop so quickly and such a different mood.
I’ve seen this ’99, 2000 with the first internet bubble, but I thought that we’re better than that. I thought that we’re more rational, and more educated than what’s happening in ’99, 2000. I was not expecting such a drop. I don’t think we took advantage in that sense from the share price. Yes, you’re right. As a CFO, I think it’s always important to see optionality in terms of how to finance the company and to secure the growth that we were looking at.
The strategy of the company was still looking at ways to consolidate the markets where we’re in, and consolidating by selling or by buying. We need to have this flexibility. If you remember, a big part of the financing was to finance the acquisition in Korea, Woowa, by almost $5 billion US acquisition which was, in my sense, the best acquisitions, M&A acquisitions in this industry so far. Not only because of the value and also the profitability that we generate then, but also by the competency that we acquire from the learning and also either group, the projection, this is Korea is the thing that every single market has to reach.
In many ways, this financing was, I think a very good one, or the financing that we’ve done was a very good one because we were able to acquire Woowa in South Korea.
Gautier: You paid in shares partially. The M&A. I guess the seller was really–
Gautier: Well, exactly. Was really keen to also get equity exposure.
Emmanuel: Exactly. We’ve done that. We look at optionalities of financing and in that sense, you can say we are agile and we’re looking at all financial possibilities to secure the financing of the company. To bet on the share price would be a very dangerous game to do. The last two years have proven that you can really miscalculate yourself.
Gautier: Back to this volatility of the share price, how employees, because you mentioned being listed, the benefit is hiring good talent as well, but how are employees typically reacting to such volatility? Do you do a bit of education? It’s not like the share price is down 70%, we’re going bankrupt. Recently listed IPOs had this issue to manage employees and reassure everyone. How did you address that?
Emmanuel: We’ve done education, we explain how the mechanism is, but there is also obviously diversity. Especially I would say, now we talk with a very old person, but for the young generation. When you’ve done through the first crisis and when you have the impression there’s only one direction and it’s always up, you don’t understand why all of a sudden the financial market is changing dramatically.
The benefit of 30 years of experience is, yes, I’ve seen this already twice or three times. It’s like, don’t panic. Continue to deliver on what we promise, focus on the KPIs of the company, and then the share price will come back. That, I think, is what we have to do in terms of education. It’s not the first time this is happening in the economy in general, and the market recover is a question of time. At the moment, the direction is not positive. What’s become a little bit difficult is when I would say we have- I think the average age of our employees is around 35.
In the compensation package that you offer, you have a fixed remuneration, but then you have also the stock option or the long-term incentive program. When you start a family, you need financing, and that’s become a struggle when you were expecting to do some profit on that. You have to educate say, look, this is a snapshot today, the share price, but if you continue to deliver on the premises that we said to the market, then it’s fair to expect the stock price to recover. You have a lot of education and communication to be done, and sometimes you will lose people, to be quite frank. People will say, “Look, I need to get more fix or-
Emmanuel: -visibility,” and despite the education that you might do, it might be not enough.
Gautier: Now looking at your investor base, public investors, how has the shadow base changed or evolved, the investor you’ve been meeting since 2017? In 2016, you were doing probably around €300 million revenues, now you do €9 billion. We’re talking about a factor of 30 times. It’s amazing. Are there the same shareholders or the same type of investors looking at you and that you’re interacting with? How has it changed?
Emmanuel: I must say we have a very stable– Like the top 20 and top 30 are very, very stable shareholders and people that I know since that time. I really have to think about if we lost maybe one or two shareholders on the way but in general, we kept the same shareholders all along. They know the story from the very beginning, they know us from the very beginning. It’s a tough time for them right now for the last two years.
I understand that this is not what they were hoping for themselves, but I think when you know this business, you have a very stable investor base, because the main asset of this company, which I mentioned before, the cohorts, is not in the balance sheet, but this is the real power of this business. This is the main KPIs of this business. When you acquire or when you do an M&A transaction, that’s probably the most crucial aspect that we will look at, is how strong are the cohorts or how weak are the cohorts, and what can we do about it?
When investors understand this and understand the notion of compound economy, which Einstein said this is one of their [French language] This is the compound economy. Compounding is something very, very difficult for a human being to understand, to appreciate, but this is exactly the business we’re in. If you look at the cohorts and the compound economy, even if sometimes it’s difficult to, again, for the human brand to understand it, what could be the company, if you can continue like this over years?
This is what you mentioned before, your company would be 10 times, 20 times larger. For the human being, it’s extremely difficult to understand it or to visualize it.
Even if you put this in Excel it’s like, it’s impossible. Something must be wrong with my formula.
Gautier: This is the reason why you will talk to growth investors who are probably more set up for this compounding. There’s a debate, US versus European or German versus European investors. Not everyone has the same brain in a way in how you function, how you look at growth, how you value growth versus maybe profitability as well, right?
Emmanuel: Absolutely. This is very interesting that you mention this. I mentioned at the beginning I’m half French, half German, I studied in Germany and I can see the reaction of the German investors and I say yes, exactly, I’ve been educated that way, HGB, the German GAAP and I love it. I love it so much because I think it’s so clear, so strict. I’m not IFRS fan, to be honest.
It’s strange to say that but it would be like HGB is what I feel secure and home but that’s limiting in terms of– I understand over time that this HGB thinking limits you in your investments because it’s a very short term view, you have to be profitable or you don’t fulfill what is according to HGB and all the education that you have is not fulfilling what a good company should be. What the investors in the UK or even more the Americans, they understand this notion of compound economy, which I never felt in Europe especially, to be quite frank, in Germany. I saw the difference.
The difference was when you’re on roadshow and you do two weeks of roadshow and you start in Frankfurt and you end up in New York or San Francisco, the feedback that you can get is so massively different. If you do Frankfurt, Paris, London, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, the questions and the view on your numbers is diferring so massively. Today’s like, “Hey you have to be profitable and cashflow positive,” but looking before 2021, the feedback that you could get was so massively different. There is no right or wrong, it’s just in Europe we might miss the opportunity because of that. It’s difficult. it’s going against your belief almost, what you learn.
It’s not an easy step to do, but the Americans are more, I would say, and obviously, I simplify a lot, but I would think the Americans get it faster than what we get in the European one.
Gautier: Not present in the US didn’t prevent you from onboarding US investors at the time of the IPO?
Emmanuel: No, also before. That’s a very good point because we had already US investors in the cap table, since 13-14, some funds that are very solid, very well known. We knew okay, we are known in New York, in the US and we’re considering but IPO we’re debating obviously, do we go to the US or do we stay in Europe as a listing and if staying in Europe, do we go to London or Frankfurt?
As we talked to the banks or to advisors, they said, “Look, in terms of valuation you won’t have a higher valuation and the liquidity will be there.” That was the case. We were 11 time over-subscribed. It was not the question of will we get a high valuation or more proceeds to be in Europe at that time. Today it’ll probably be a different story in terms of valuation of the company compared to the US peers. At that time, it didn’t make any difference.
Gautier: What do you think today would be different? It’s just that the market is just higher in the US right now for delivery or marketplaces in general?
Emmanuel: Yes. Looking at the valuation up here of our peers, it’s got higher valuation multiples for the valuation. The question would be, and that I don’t have any answer to be quite frank, is okay, if we would be listed in the US but not present in the US, we’ll get the same multiple as the peers, or do you have to be not only listed but also have a presence, be visible in the US market? Personally, I think being listed in the US but not present and not visible as a service brand, I think you will still be penalized in terms of valuation. I might be wrong but I think if you’re not present in the US, being listed doesn’t bring you so much value.
Gautier: That’s a very important question and there’s a debate, but because I know you invest yourself a lot in private companies and probably a lot of those founders think about listing in the US versus Europe, I think question is, do you really have to be in the US to get the same valuation or not, if valuation is your primary goal, and having a US presence probably help to connect with the investors, as you say, and they’ll be competing with the 3,000 others companies in the NASDAQ.
At the same time, also making sure investors understand your business model, as you say. Do you have this compounding mindset, this growth mindset? Seems to me we are getting there in Europe and obviously companies like you are helping that, I think, investor knowledge and experience and benchmark of growth companies, not necessarily profitable. Is that your advice to those companies or private owners that consider Europe as a listing location? Do you have strongly on that?
Emmanuel: I believe that we have a lot of talents in Europe, and we might be a little bit shy or sometimes not enough or certain about our talent. The fact that we were listed in Europe was also kind of been a model, if I may say so. I want to be humble here. One of the company to look at, is this possible to be listed in Europe and to have a good IPO, and then to support the startup scene here in Berlin, in Germany, in Europe, and making sure that we’re not too shy. We can be successful, we have good people here, we have great intelligence. We just have to be a bit more bullish and a bit more vocal about our talents.
I think a part of it was also this way. It’s like your CEO, Nicholas, is Swedish, I’m French-German, we founded the company in Germany, why should we go to the US if we get the same valuation and the same proceeds? Let’s prove that a European success is possible. Obviously, I have some connection with startups here in Berlin, but also in France, in other places in Europe. When they ask, “Should we be listed in the US?” I always ask, “Do you have a presence in the US?”
If not, it’s like, what would be your advantage? If you look at your peers of your industry, is it the massive difference in terms of multiple? If there is, then ask yourself if this is because of the presence in the US or not, because if this is the key, then you’ll have to decide for yourself, are you going to go to the US and what will be the implication for your business? Because being listed in the US have also implications in terms of obviously in my field of reporting, or your report, but not only. You have also some legal implication, it has some certain complexity and so on and so forth.
It’s something that have to be thought through quite wisely, I would say, because you have consequence on other operations, on the management structure, and so on and so forth.
Gautier: On the IPO readiness, you mentioned already a few tips. What’s your best recommendation for CFOs and again, with this six years experience as a public company, what do you think is super important to get really done well before being public?
Emmanuel: I put 10 points to myself. I prepared a presentation and I have 10 points. My first one is really, get talent soon enough because there’s a tendency, and understand that as a startup, to postpone the recruitment of talents like, “Oh this person will be too expensive, he’s too senior. You postpone it and you end up doing a lot of things, you end up doing at the beginning, employment contract, intercompany loan.
You do the reporting, you do the budget, everything, but you don’t do it right. Right in the sense like you do too much things and sometimes there are too junior people but once you recruit experienced, talented people, here an example is like a head of tax, all of a sudden this field is covered then you don’t have to worry about the VAT declaration and income statement. If you do it “en passant” and then of a sudden this is giving you a lot of confidence and also is freeing a lot of energy.
I had the tendency, and I think all startups will do that, to postpone recruitment of experienced/more expensive people, but once you do it, it’s boosting your organization. The mistake I made, the first one I always presented is, I was always getting experts too late, because I was postponing this moment in time. We’ve just had done the financing, maybe I can keep a little bit of money for other things. I think that was one of the things I learned.
The second point was about ERP solution. If your business is growing fast, we implement an ERP solution quite earlier at DeliveryHero, which was very, very early stage 2016, it was already too late because the business is growing so fast, you really have to be– It was not too late in the sense to jeopardize the business, but to catch up with your growth is extremely complicated. You rely on solid financing of finance numbers, you rely on robust solutions, so I will say don’t wait too long to consider an ERP solution. That would be probably the two areas that I would think about.
Then considering IPO, I will have all the advice. Think IPO as an event, just an event for the finance teams, it’s just an event, you don’t achieve anything. You are private before, you’re public after. It’s just an event because the danger is that if you see this as the ultimate goal, then after that, you will fall, and especially for the finance team, usually the IPO is happening, then you have to report the next quarter, so you have to be–
Physically, you go back to work the day after. I was really concerned about you fall after the IPO. I was continuing saying this is just an event in the trajectory and the chronology of the company, it would be one point since June 17, but the lives continue afterwards. I’ve done a lot of communication to my teams. Consider this as an event, nothing more.
Gautier: That is a really good advice. I think sometimes people see it more as a destination or as a goal too reach, then the risk is you lose people after that, obviously, because they work for that and suddenly demotivated and maybe also too much focus from the organization, the owners, the stakeholders to make sure the IPO is obviously a big success, but valuation at the top. Then the risk is you probably just disappoint, right? And you reach the peak.
Emmanuel: You know what you said just before, it’s like there were some investors asking me what we do with IPO, obviously, the proceeds and everything but like a good IPO for me, I was say after a year, I would have the same team. No divorce, no depression, no suicide, I didn’t lose anyone, we stick together, and this is six to seven months of very intense work. You’re really under pressure, timeline and everything, and you have to act as a team. IPO is not a one-off. It is not a one-person success, is a we, and you really need to have these people on board before, during the IPO, and after.
I’ve been lucky, I do, literally for two years after I didn’t lose anyone, and you feel it. All of a sudden, everything is becoming more, every single challenge that you face afterwards, like okay, we did this together, we’ll continue to do it together, we will manage the situation as well. No worries. We stick together, and that’s a big importance, so I think communication before, during the preparation for the IPO, making sure that IPO is just an event, I think is really crucial.
Gautier: Would you IPO again, if you had the choice today?
Emmanuel: For DeliveryHero or in general? For DeliveryHero, looking back and knowing what we know today, I think probably we will have to think twice about, let’s stay private, we will accelerate even more the consolidation, we’ll be more aggressive with people that understand the trajectory, and probably there will have been faster in certain areas, as of today, so that probably knowing what you do today probably I would recommend to delay a bit, but still wanting to be IPO ready. That was also the goal. We wanted to be IPO ready, then push the buttons anytime, so the IPO readiness, I would have not changed anything.
I will say look, 2015, ’16 it was exactly the right thing to do. Going IPO in ’17, that’s another question, but the IPO-readiness had the discipline to report quarterly and so on and so forth, I will keep this.
Then if I will do another IPO, yes, I will do it any time because this is such a nice, the preparation, it brings teams together. It forge a team that is once you’ve done this together, and you put this structure in place, and you put things in place, and you document and you realize that you have some weaknesses, and you have to fix it and you fix it together and certain challenges, that brings you such a value. Then obviously, when you go listed and it is successful, then obviously this is a big reward, but I will do it again. Yes, I’d like to do it again one day.
Gautier: I guess the toughest question is when to start this IPO readiness work, right? Because as you say, it’s good to have that optionality for the event and be ready, get the teams ready and done and organized, but to start early, as you said, right? What does it mean starting early? When should I do that? You’ve done it as well, you pushed back some of those investment or people you probably should have hired earlier on as well. I guess that’s a tough question for CEOs and CFOs out there, when to start investing for having this IPO readiness.
Emmanuel: There’s small things that you can do very early on, that doesn’t cost you a lot at the beginning in terms of cost you a lot not in financial terms, but in terms of efforts or resources. Actually, I would argue that if you do it early enough, you save a lot of time, a lot of resources in the future. I’m in some business I’m investing privately, I said, “Look, do your IFRS transition now. Why should I do it because I have nothing to- my transition would be easy?” I said, “Yes, exactly, that’s the reason. The sooner you do this IFRS transition, the easier it will be in the future because you’ve done it.
Right now, you probably have very few things to change, but as the company will grow and getting more complex, then you will have this IFRS transition done. If you do it in the future, you will realize that, “Oh, I need two years, and it will cost me.” Transition costs you €300,000 to €500,000, probably with auditors, depending on the size of the company, so it takes a lot of resources. Why do you start so late? Especially if it is an easy task, do it now. Then you can say to your investors that you’ve done already this affair, IFRS transition, and you also build the knowledge internally: What does it mean? What do you have to do for this? It doesn’t require a lot of time, a lot of money. That’s one of the point. It was like, why do we wait as a startup? There’s no reason for this.
Gautier: We’re coming to an end soon, keen to get the final tips you will have had, or give, for CFO or CEO, or senior executive looking to IPO?
Emmanuel: The very personal one is, don’t underestimate the energy that would be required from you. When I mention this, is I’ve done, at the very beginning it gave me a lot of certainty. I felt like the French were a good mind in a healthy body. I felt like I have to take care of my body and my soul, and I was really taken care of, no alcohol, no coffee. I fasted for two weeks during the IPO, making sure that I’m in good shape because this is a very intense time, which require a lot of energy, physical, but also brain, you don’t sleep a lot.
When you receive the analyst report, you have 48 hours to correct everything, so it’s like sleepless nights, a lot. You have to be healthy, and if I will help a company to do IPO, not as a CFO, but as a– I will make sure that I do a health check before. Like, “Guys, you’re on the journey that will be demanding, so make sure that you’re in good health. Take it seriously because if you fell in the middle, it will be for the company, for the investors, for your employees, for your colleagues, and for yourself, it will be really a disaster, so make sure that you’re in good health and take this seriously. That would be my advice.
Gautier: I think that’s a really good one because there’s an advisor for everything in an IPO process, so many advisors run management and shareholders financial, obviously, but all others and legal and tax, but I haven’t heard about a health advisor, but I think that’s a really good idea. Any fun facts you could share about your IPO roadshow? If you remember any?
Emmanuel: Yes, there’s one of those, the reefers they were in New York, with Nicolas together, and there’s a car waiting for us from the roadshow, then the car is picking us up, and we run on time, there’s no stress whatsoever. We leave the hotel, turn to this avenue, I don’t remember which one, and there’s a traffic jam, and we don’t move, and we don’t move. We have plenty of time, we have plenty of time. At some point, I start to say, “Look.” We stopped for quite some times, right? The driver is, “No, no, no, no, no, we have plenty of time. Don’t worry.”
Now actually, it’s happened that it was in the same block, the same building, it was on the other side. The guy was not telling us that we could have walked. We were stressing in the car while we could have walked two minutes to get to this. Then I realized, okay, but now I want to see which address it is, and we walked a lot in New York afterwards. That was a very funny thing because we started the roadshow with a stress, peak of stress like, we’re not going to make it on time. Then maybe the last one was like once I was so tired.
I will confess you something, we were at the end of the roadshow and I really pay attention. I really love investors to be honest. I love to be on roadshow. I love to talk to them, to hear their opinions, to hear the feedback, concerns, things that they disagree, because I learned about this, I was thankful because I always take something for me and for the company, but it was a Friday and doing this one on one, Niklas talked and I was not capturing anything. I was just dead. I was just completely tired.
Gautier: You felt guilty, apparently?
Emmanuel: Oh, yes. I was like, “Oh my God.” I didn’t pick up anything because I was so tired. It was like I was exhausted.
Gautier: Did you get that investor in the book at the end?
Emmanuel: Yes, because Niklas did fantastic. That was, we’re a team. This is what a team is all about. Is like you had also this moment, right? We humans, this is what I mentioned before with your health and making sure that you measure your energy because at some point, you always have a moment where you’re tired, then this is where the good team is. The new colleagues will take over.
Gautier: Kudos to that guys because I think among all those IPOs we’ve seen over the last 10 years, having such longetivity with the CEO and the CFO and you guys doing a great job, and it’s amazing to see you there still after the IPO, so well done.
Emmanuel: Thank you.
Gautier: Thank you, Emmanuel, for joining us today and it was a pleasure to have you thanks for your time.
Emmanuel: Thank you so much for having me today. Thank you, Gautier. Take care.