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Off Balance: Google and Uber CFOs reinvent the leaving letter

OB HAS SEEN many a CFO departure line, including the oft-miscontrued ‘has left for other affairs’.

Sometimes it says they ‘retired’, which has never made much sense for OB, particularly as they then seem to take on a welter of different roles. ‘Retiring’, for OB, means getting on the knee protector and digging weeds, or going on long cruises with Rob Brydon.

But times change. And tech execs do seem a lot different to their ‘bricks and mortar peers’.
Not only do they wear open-necked shirts [Or T-shirts! Ed], but their departure spiel is, well, a lot more fluffy.

So take a bow the departing CFOs of Google and Uber, both of whom have turned the rigid, formulaic process that is writing a leaving letter, and turned it into a surreal art form.

“This story starts last fall. A very early morning last September, after a whole night of climbing, looking at the sunrise on top of Africa – Mt Kilimanjaro. Tamar (my wife) and I were not only enjoying the summit, but on such a clear day, we could see in the distance, the vast plain of the Serengeti at our feet, and with it the calling of all the potential adventures Africa has to offer. (see exhibit #1 – Tamar and I on Kili).”

That is the second paragraph of Google CFO Patrick Pichette’s note. As the FT’s Lucy Kellaway so brilliantly points out, some of his words “sound weirdly familiar; I find myself singing Toto’s Africa, one of the corniest pop songs ever written”.

Not to be outdone, Uber CFO Brent Callinicos said of his departure: “Time and memory are true artists; they remold reality nearer to the heart’s desire.”

Wowsers. In fairness to Brent, his email internal note was leaked to the WSJ.

But he has nothing to be ashamed of. Surely it’s better than saying ‘to pursue other interests’? Off Balance salutes these Shakepearian techy-numbers geeks.

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