Fiscal foresight: Four facts to know about Krishna Rao, Cedar’s CFO
As Cedar continues to scale, it’s always exciting to welcome new members of the leadership team. We are thrilled to have Krishna Rao join us as CFO and help drive strategic decision-making and growth.
On paper, Krishna’s background spoke for itself—he is a strategic finance leader with deep experience from his most recent role as Global Head of Corporate and Business Development at Airbnb and his prior work as an investor at Blackstone and a consultant at Bain & Company.
But what really attracted the leadership team to Krishna and made us confident that he was the right fit was how his values and specific skill set aligned deeply with Cedar’s needs and culture—far more than his resume alone could show.
I sat down with Krishna to talk about how and why he came to Cedar and what he’s looking forward to as the first in this role—my favorite four highlights from our conversation are below:
First and foremost, Krishna joined Cedar for our mission: empowering consumers to easily and affordably pursue care
Asked about why he joined Cedar and why he decided to join us now, Krishna pointed directly to the broad applicability of the company’s mission.
“The problem Cedar is solving is so tangible. When you tell people about Cedar’s mission, everyone has a personal experience to share. [Right now] I actually have a 6-page explanation of benefits from my insurance company sitting in front of me that I am trying to make sense of—a perfect example of what Cedar is addressing. Almost everyone has had a healthcare billing issue either for themselves or in their family so it is extremely relevant, especially given how expensive medical care is in this country. I believe Cedar’s relentless focus on improving the consumer experience in healthcare is the best way to address the problem.”
His key focus as CFO? Continuing to build finance into an end-to-end partner to the business
Krishna does not shy away from pointing out that a lot of work needs to be done as Cedar plans for its next phase of growth, but he brims with optimism and possibilities for the finance and legal functions.
“I believe a truly strategic finance function is something a lot of companies would benefit from but not a lot of them actually exist. This is because it is much easier to say what something costs than to determine its value or worth to a company and its stakeholders. I am excited to build on the strong foundation that already exists at Cedar in the finance and legal teams and to help scale our capabilities and value addition with Cedar’s rapid growth. Accounting, tax, FP&A and legal are complex at a company that is at Cedar’s stage, and that complexity will only increase as Cedar grows its customer base, develops new products and enters new markets. The challenge of establishing meaningful business partnerships and staying ahead of the company’s needs is one that I am really looking forward to.”
His ultimate vision is to be an end-to-end partner to our business leadership, helping to create significant value by setting and achieving objectives on a multi-year basis, driving resource allocation and tradeoffs and bringing data to bear on strategic thinking.
“In short, I want the entire finance and legal team to deepen its partnership with the business in a way that continues to support and enable the remarkable growth Cedar has experienced to date.”
Krishna is excited about moving into healthcare technology to work on a big challenge: helping providers and payers find mutually beneficial ways to improve the consumer financial experience
Not one to back away from a challenge, Krishna says he is immensely excited to help solve one of the biggest problems in the industry—and having a daughter in the middle of the pandemic reminded him of just how challenging navigating the patient journey can be.
“I have seen the patient's journey from that angle and how difficult it is to get simple explanations. I am not a healthcare expert—I don’t come to Cedar with years of deep knowledge of how the payer and provider [landscape] works, but I understand the problem as a patient, as many of us do. It is very exciting to see a company using technology and a consumer-centered approach to address these pain points.”
His time at Airbnb, Blackstone and Bain & Company gave Krishna a unique versatility and deliberate focus to build a strategic finance and legal function
Krishna brings a unique versatility to Cedar given his diversity of experiences across consumer technology, private equity and consulting, as well as his legal background.
“At each stage of my career, I have learned something that I believe has made me better in a future job. Working with so many different companies at both Blackstone and Bain allowed me to internalize what worked and what didn’t across a wide range of industries, company stages and market dynamics. My time at Airbnb has been invaluable, learning how a design-driven, innovative platform scales globally and how the finance function can support that. I am excited to bring this perspective to Cedar and discover what I will learn next!”