Mizuho Talks Square’s New CFO, a Mobile Payments Twist

January 9, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

Video gamers out there know the problems that have recently been seen at Activision Blizzard, especially in terms of microtransactions and how profits are made. This makes for a very unusual situation as Mizuho recently examined; Activision Blizzard’s CFO, Amrita Ahuja, is joining up with Square, poised to serve as its CFO as well.

Ahuja has been Activision Blizzard’s CFO since March 2018, which means she’s likely had at least a hand in the development of some of its new and controversial microtransaction systems. Yet Mizuho refers to her as an “up-and-comer,” a development notably different from the “rock-star” status held by Square’s former CFO Sarah Friar.

Mizuho points out that Square needs “diversity in investor relations communications,” as a means to prevent having a single face be identified as representing the whole firm. Since Friar was gifted in terms of investor relations, as Mizuho also noted, this likely was a potential risk.

For its part, Mizuho believes that investors were expecting a “more seasoned CFO”, and Ahuja certainly qualifies there. Mizuho notes that no one should rush to judgment, and while Friar had never been a CFO prior to her tenure, she certainly delivered for the company. Ahuja may have completely different results, and that’s what matters in the end.

With Friar leaving to become Nextdoor’s CEO—who could  refuse such an offer?—and Square interested in broadening its financial bench, a new CFO makes sense. Though why Ahuja? Surely there were other qualified CFOs out there, as opposed to one who’s part of a company whose stock was down almost 20 percent by the time Thanksgiving hit. Though that’s less a function of the CFO and probably more a function of marketing; Activision Blizzard’s CFO probably didn’t look at the assembled board one day and say: “One word: Lootboxes.”

Still, it’s a safe bet that Square won’t be leaving corporate communications entirely in Ahuja’s hands either way. If it wants to spread the duty out a bit, that can’t hurt; if Friar was coming to be considered the “face of Square,” then her loss or departure could have done damage to the company’s market perception. With Ahuja, and a few others on hand, that’s one problem Square can at least prevent.