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Exit Strategies: From Inception to Acquisition by The Seattle CFO Leadership Council
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Exit Strategies: From Inception to Acquisition by The Seattle CFO Leadership Council

Exit Strategies: From Inception to Acquisition hosted by The Seattle CFO Leadership Council Thursday May 23rd, 2019 7:45 AM to 8:15 AM Networking | 8:15 AM to 9:45 AM Program Stoel Rives, 600 University Street, 36th Floor, Seattle

When: Thursday May 23rd, 2019
7:45-9:45 AM
Where: Stoel Rives LLP
600 University Street
Suite 3600
Seattle, WA  98101
United States
Contact: Yuliya Popova

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Program Description 

No matter the size and scope, company exits are often the most complex and intense transactions a CFO can experience. In this session, our panel of CFOs and CEOs will reveal the real stories behind their recent company exits. From surprises along the way to lessons learned, our speakers will share their advice and best practices on how to strategically plan, manage and execute a successful exit. We will focus primarily on IPO and M&A deals.


Learning Objectives:

  • The importance of an organization’s capital structure in supporting an exit
  • The differences between an IPO, strategic sale, or financial sale, and how the CFO can position his or her company for each
  • How to prepare your company for an exit years in advance of its executive
  • Realities and misconceptions of the due diligence process
  • How to select and work effectively with service providers



Instructional method: Group-Live
Recommended CPE Credits: 1.8 Credits in Business Management & Organization
Experience Level: Basic
Prerequisites/advance preparation: None


Brett Brinton, Serial Entrepreneur, Advisor, and Author
Brett co-founded Zonar Systems and was its CEO since its inception in late 2001 until its sale to Daimler Trucks (Mercedes) and Continental AG in late 2016. New to the technology sector, he brought his proven business skills from a previous successful Seattle start-up, Wasser, Inc. Working under the mentorship of his father, the family-owned business took a new resin technology into the conventional steel coatings industry. Over the next 11 years, the company became the largest supplier of bridge coatings in the world, including some of the major infrastructure projects of the ‘90s, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Panama Canal, Japan’s Bullet Train, Rigley Field, and numerous other high-profile projects.

Brett parlayed his business expertise to Zonar, an early pioneer in the "smart vehicle" business. The results were a cloud-based, highly profitable, hyper-growth, SaaS market leader. Partnering with the largest truck manufacturer in the world, Daimler Trucks (North American companies include Freightliner and Detroit Diesel), the Company quickly grew its installed base to more than a million vehicles. All this without any institutional investment. Brett has co-authored more than 30 patents since Zonar’s founding, leading the way to prestigious technology awards, such as the internationally known Edison Award for Innovation, awarded in both 2011 and 2013. He is also a contributing writer for Fortune Magazine. Mr. Brinton studied Health Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, is a registered member of the Potawatomi Indian Tribe and is active within his local community.

Chris Nielsen, CFO, Redfin
Chris leads the finance team at Redfin. Before joining Redfin, Chris was the chief financial officer and chief operating officer of, a leading destination in online apparel and footwear sales, where he oversaw the company's financial and fulfillment operations. Prior to, Chris led highly successful retail business segments, such as the home and garden store, at He has also worked at business consulting firms Bain & Co. and Accenture. Chris holds a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from Stanford University and a master's degree in business administration from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Stephen Smith, COO & CFO, Northern Industrial
Stephen Smith is COO and CFO of Northern Industrial, a closely held multi-national company that manufactures purpose-built machines for the forest industry under the brands Nicholson, Valon Kone, and Madill. He has been part of Northern Industrial Inc for more than 11 years, providing financial, legal, tax and administrative leadership on a global basis to 12 companies. In 2017, the company was sold to Kadiant (KAI). Since then, Stephen added a COO role to his CFO responsibilities. He's currently working to reinvest the proceeds from the sale of the forest group of companies to build a private multi-generational legacy real estate investment company. His role is to develop andimplement the strategy from scratch.
Prior to Northern Industrial, Stephen was CFO at Aventail Inc. and VP Finance at Network Commerce.

Moderator: Michael Reeves, Office Managing Partner, BDO
Michael Reeves is the managing partner of BDO Seattle’s Assurance Practice and has over 25 years of experience serving publicly held and privately held clients in the technology, life sciences, private equity, venture capital, and manufacturing industries.

Michael has led several companies through their initial public offerings and has also assisted his clients in several business combinations and sale transactions. He has significant experience in accounting issues such as revenue recognition (including software-related and multiple element transactions), stock-based compensation, valuations, and business combinations. Clients Michael has served include Clearwire, InfoSpace (now Blucora), Acucela, TalentWise, Paula’s Choice, WIRB-Copernicus Group, and Zonar Systems.

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