Rover Hires CFO in Startup Dogfight With Pet-Sitter Rival

  • Steve Heaps joins Seattle startup from Yapta, Deutsche Telekom
  • DogVacay competes in market for dog walkers and pet boarding

Rover.com hired a new chief financial officer as it races to stay ahead of DogVacay Inc., a rival startup that connects pet owners with walkers and sitters.

Steve Heaps joins Rover from airline-tracking service Yapta, where he was also CFO. Before that, Heaps, 51, was a vice president at Deutsche Telekom AG, the parent company of T-Mobile.

Seattle’s Rover has risen on a similar trajectory as Santa Monica, California-based DogVacay. Rover was founded in 2011, and DogVacay started a year later. Both are backed by venture capitalists, with Rover maintaining a slight lead in fundraising. Rover said it’s raised more than $50 million, while DogVacay has about $47 million.

Each company’s website lists pre-screened pet sitters sorted by geography and availability, similar to booking a room on Airbnb Inc. (Each has been called the “Airbnb for dogs.”) Rover has more than 40,000 sitters in 10,000 cities across the U.S., according to its website. The company takes a cut of each transaction.

Last month, Heaps replaced Teresa Kotwis, who had been Rover CFO since April 2014, according to her LinkedIn profile. Hiring a finance executive with experience at a public company can sometimes be a step toward an initial public offering. But Heaps said the company isn’t in a rush to go public.

“We have no definite plans to have an IPO at this point,” Heaps said. “That being said, given Rover’s rapid growth, our category leadership, our strong customer economics, it certainly remains a possibility. It’s perhaps even an increasing possibility over time as the company matures.”

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