Mostly metrics
Run the Numbers
First Mover or Fast Follower? Thomas Ream of Workato on Timing Your Tech Strategy in the Age of AI

First Mover or Fast Follower? Thomas Ream of Workato on Timing Your Tech Strategy in the Age of AI

Today CJ is joined by Thomas Ream, the CFO of Workato, an intelligent automation platform that is heavily involved in AI. Thomas opens up about what it was like working in AI in the early days of the 90s. They discuss AI as a component of workflow and what it means to train AI models. He talks about the differences between working in hardware and software, the growing trend of hardware and software combinations, and the vast potential of quantum computing. Having worked for a social network prior to the existence of Facebook and other tech companies doing interesting things too soon, Thomas explains the importance of timing in tech and challenges the assumption that there is a first mover’s advantage in this field. He shares wisdom from his experience as a CFO, what makes a great one, why he doesn’t necessarily hire based on experience, and the importance of quick decision-making as well as his “lead, follow, or get out of the way” framework. 

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@cjgustafson222 (CJ)


(00:00) Preview and Intro

(01:42) Sponsor - Leapfin | Mercury

(03:45) The Need for Humans in Training AI Models

(05:54) Thomas’s Early Work in AI in the 90s

(07:50) What It Means to Train an AI Model

(08:38) AI as a Component of Workflow

(13:04 ) Working in Hardware Vs Software

(16:02) Sponsor - Netsuite | Maxio

(18:30) Hardware-software Combinations and Quantum Computing

(22:28) The Importance of Timing in Tech

(26:33) Frameworks for Quick Decision-making

(34:28) Qualities Thomas Looks for When Hiring

(37:52) The Qualities of a Great CFO

(39:12) Balancing Time Between Internal and External Stakeholders 

(43:01) Long-ass Lightning Round: Advice on When to Move on

(47:36) Workato’s Finance Software Stack

(50:35) Craziest Expense Story

Mostly metrics
Run the Numbers
Run the Numbers is a twice-weekly podcast about financial metrics and business models, designed for ambitious people operating tech startups. It's a collection of things host CJ Gustafson (CFO at Partstech and writer of Mostly Metrics) has learned and thought about in the trenches as a tech CFO.
This show is meant to serve as a playbook of sorts for the stuff CJ wishes he knew earlier in his career, both from experience and from copying people smarter than himself.
Topics frequently touch upon Startup SaaS Metrics, Annual Budgeting, Financial Forecasting, Headcount, Equity, Dilution, and Fundraising – and how all of these drive business performance and growth.