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Square's New CFO -- What Does It Mean for Investors?

Motley Fool Staff, The Motley Fool

Fintech company Square (NYSE: SQ) recently announced that it had hired Amrita Ahuja to be its next chief financial officer.

In this Industry Focus: Financials clip, host Jason Moser and Motley Fool contributor Matt Frankel, CFP discuss Ahuja's background, what CEO Jack Dorsey had to say about her, and what the news means for Square's investors.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on Jan. 7, 2019.

Jason Moser: Matt, there was some news that came out late last week that seemed relatively relevant to our universe here. It looks like Square has a new CFO in town, Ms. Amrita Ahuja, who is currently the CFO of video game developer Blizzard Entertainment. Yes, that's Blizzard of Activision Blizzard. She's going to be coming in and taking over the reins there at Square. After reading a little bit about her work history and a nice little Twitter thread she had out there regarding her family and how they came to the country, I feel really good about this hire. What do you think?

Matt Frankel: It seems like they got the right person for the job. Like I've said before, Sarah Friar left some pretty big shoes to fill over there. Having said that, I like what Jack Dorsey had to say about how entrepreneurial she is and how she's going to focus just on the CFO role. Sarah Friar was a dual focus. She did a lot of the CFO role and a lot of the PR work for the company. Pretty much everything we know about the company's future plans to get into banking, and to be the one-stop-personal finance-shop, we know from Sarah Friar's speeches and discussions and things like that. He says she's going to be a little more focused on the job, which I think is a very good thing from an investor's perspective. It definitely seems, a lot of parallels between her old job and new job. I think it's a good hire. I think the stock does not deserve to be down 30% from when Sarah Friar announced that she was leaving. Even though Square has popped in the last few days, I don't think the pop was a direct result of the announcement, I think it was more because the market was going crazy higher on Friday. But I think they have the right person for the job. Only time will tell, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. Investors hate uncertainty, and this removed a big chunk of that uncertainty. I'll leave it with that.

Moser: That's a good point. We weren't sure how long this was going to go on. But given that Jack Dorsey at both Twitter and Square, he said his primary role as CEO of both companies is to make sure that he's getting the appropriate talent in the appropriate positions. That's encouraging. You look at Ms. Ahuja's work history, she had stints at Fox Network Group, at Disney and Morgan Stanley after receiving degrees from Duke and Harvard Business School. So, yeah, I'd say she seems pretty qualified.

Frankel: Yeah. This definitely seems like a good person to have at the top of their list. I can easily see why Jack Dorsey went ahead and pulled the trigger and brought her on the team.

Moser: It's probably a little bit of a different stage for Square at this point in its life. For a while, Sarah Friar needed to be out there front and center, creating that public image and helping to nurture that public image of Square, so that consumers and merchants and restaurateurs all understood more about what Square does and the value proposition that they're offering to all of their different customers. Perhaps today, there's more public awareness, more understanding as to what the company does, to where Ms. Ahuja can go in there and focus more on the numbers and making sure that the company is allocating its investments appropriately.

It reminds me, perhaps, of when Ruth Porat took over at Alphabet. She was able to go in there and focus a little bit more on the numbers and make sure that they were running a smartly led operation there. Maybe that'll be something that Ms. Ahuja has the chance to do here, as well.

I don't know how public a face she will be, but I would recommend anyone who wants to learn a little bit more about her, you can go to Twitter and actually see the thread that she tweeted out shortly after this news was announced. She gives a little bit of her story, her parents' story, and, as you mentioned, the entrepreneurial spirit of her and her parents. I think that gives a little bit more understanding as to why we like that hire. Certainly, it seems like she would be somewhat empathetic to not only the company, but its customers, as well, and that can only be a good thing.

Frankel: Definitely. I like your point about how they don't really need that public face as much anymore. When I first started writing about Square and first invested in it a few years ago, I used to have to use the first hundred or so words of every article about them explaining who the company was.

"You know, the ones that make the little card readers you see sticking out of people's iPhones?" Now that's no longer necessary. You don't really need someone to tell you where the company's going constantly, who they are, what they do. I like that they're consolidating this role down to a more traditional CFO role. That's a big positive in my mind.

Moser: Good news for your One To Watch for 2019. We'll keep following it and wish them the best of luck. I'm sure we'll learn a little bit more when earnings season comes around.

Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Jason Moser owns shares of Alphabet (C shares), Square, Twitter, and Walt Disney. Matthew Frankel, CFP owns shares of Square. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Activision Blizzard, Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Square, Twitter, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has the following options: short January 2019 $80 calls on Square. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.