The story of the Match Group — the parent company of Match.com — is a classic tale of a high-growth company confronting and overcoming the many challenges of scaling a feisty high-flyer into a global corporation that retains its spirit and energy, but also adopts modern cloud technology to help manage all that growth.
At the recent Workday Rising customer conference, I sat down with Match Group VP and Corporate Controller Trey Henderson to hear about his fast-growing company’s battles to rein in disparate financial systems, multiple versions of the truth, and the interminable hours spent by the finance team in the never-ending “cycle of death” around Pre-Close, Close, Reconciliation, and lather, rinse, repeat.
Henderson was also quite emphatic about his and the company’s desire for employees to spend more time with their families, and the role modern cloud technology can play in that.
This article contains some of my favorite excerpts from Trey during our conversation at Rising, and you can hear more by streaming our full podcast conversation.
Riding a Growth Rocket
“Match Group is a fantastic success story and growth story, starting with Match.com in the mid ’90s and growing organically and through M&A over the years…. I’ve been part of the group for about seven years now and it’s a fantastic, fun group to be with — a lot of smart people here. Of course, the past few years have been very challenging for everybody, and we implemented Workday virtually during the Covid environment. Obviously, people were affected during that time and we really found ways to boost the productivity of our group — it was a big challenge and they really rose to it…. We’ve done a few acquisitions over the years, including a big one in South Korea that we’re excited about, and we’ve got a new CEO, Bernard Kim, who stated just a few months ago, and we’re excited to see where he takes the company.”
Love in the Metaverse?
“We’ve dabbled in it, and we pushed to see if we should be the early adopter, or should we wait to see how it plays out and then leverage that technology. And so we’re kind of playing it in the middle a little bit. Our CEO recently said we’re going to pull back a little bit from the metaverse, but it’s an avenue that’s out there. At the same time, people are also discussing more about crypto and how that may impact our worlds. So so we’re trying to straddle the fence a little bit and we’ll be ready to leverage that technology or be able to create it ourselves and certainly define the space, and we’re gonna wait and see how it plays out.”
The Road to Modernization and the Cloud
“We used to find ourselves very decentralized, so we would find that while we were centralized in the North America space, we were centralized in EMEA, but centralized in APAC. But as we grew with our M&A, those silos only continued to grow. So we challenged ourselves to work from an accounting perspective to cross all the different portfolios of brands across all geographies, and really try to capture a global consistent environment.
“And that was all with different ERPs. During that time, we were still in Great Plains in North America for twentysomething years, and we were in NetSuite, and yes, we also had local ERPs. And we decided we needed to centralize and globalize and be part of the SaaS world, so we asked, ‘How can we revolutionize for our world in the cloud, but also provide better value for the business?’
“So we went down a pathway where we knew we needed a new ERP and globally we wanted to be in the cloud. And we knew all those things we needed to solve for to manage our new control environment for being a public company. We knew we needed to solve for all the multi-language and multi-currency aspects of being a global business.”
Surprise! Workday Beats the Competition
“So we started looking at a few competitors, and I’m kind of ashamed to say that Workday was not on the shortlist in the beginning…. Once I saw the differentiation that Workday had against the competitors, I was absolutely blown away: I saw how we could provide the linkage of the payroll data with the financial data, I saw how their flexible Chart of Accounts are, and their extended dimensionality and their abilities to solve for what we saw in the future as revolutionizing accounting, and I knew that we could provide huge value to the business.
“And not just to the business but to our employees as well — we take that very seriously. We want our employees to be able to spend more time with their families. And we believe that adding the technology and adding the right people can provide that value so they get to spend more time with the families. And I’m very serious about that mantra: I have a family myself, and love spending time with them.
“So we’ve more or less revolutionized where we were to provide that better value. And we can continue on that pathway to say, ‘Okay, now that we’ve installed Workday Financials, we can now take it to the next level, let’s continue to clean it up, provide additional enhancements of reporting, or whatever track traceability of data to our business and to our employees.”
Ending the “Cycle of Death”
“When I first joined in 2015, we had this sort of ‘cycle of death,’ right? We’d go into Pre-Close, and then we’d go into Close, and then we’d go into Reconciliations. And then we’d have a little bit of time for vacation, and then we’re back to Pre-Close again, and there was no time to add any value to any processes or any reviews.
“So what we had to do was drive a wedge into that where can we start and where can we obtain that snowball effect that would then increase the value but it would also decrease the time to close, and it would decrease the need for people to have to work those long, late hours. So we started chipping away at that—it took a few years right but having the right people there and invested in the process, plus the investment in the technology, were really important.
“Once we got past that point, we really then started talking about what our next step should be. And we realized the next step was really a wholesale change involving Workday. So our HCM group installed Workday for HCM and Payroll in 2017. And then, because we were able to see, okay, well, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we realized we had a great challenge and a great opportunity ahead of us and we need to try to meet that challenge. And it’s been a great choice, and we’re so happy with what we’ve done.”