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W. Michael Hsu – 2014 40 Under 40 Honoree


W. Michael Hsu, CPA.CITP, MSA – 30

Founder & CEO
Irvine, CA


What are the key areas of your firm that have seen the greatest change/challenge in workflow over the past few years? (Or, what are the key challenges you see firms facing?)
The cloud is old news and while everyone is jumping on the best-of-breed bandwagon, we’ve ran into another issue. Most traditionally trained accountants are simply not technology savvy enough to understand everything that’s involved in the tools they are now using. While each vendor advertises integration with others, it had been evident that the integration is no where close to what all of us had imagined it to be. As a result, our customers suffer. Data gets corrupted, promises are not delivered, and our customers are the ones who end up footing the bill.
To what extent have you and your practice/company embraced cloud computing?

DeepSky was born in the cloud in 2009. We have teammates that span across the globe and collaborate solely through the cloud. While the cloud does not replace face to face human interactions, it allows us to be extremely discipline focused in our craft instead of relying on some version of a geographic market. Our customers appreciate and know that we are specialists in their needs and therefore hold us in higher esteem.  
In what ways have you contributed to your firm/company to make it a better place? 

As the founder and CEO of our company, my primary job is to make decisions. In the past 5 years I’ve learned that people decisions are the hardest because processes and systems can be built, but great people are what make the things we do possible. At DeepSky, we work hard everyday at helping each other be better than yesterday. Sometimes it’s a new process we are trying out, others a very blunt “I am disappointed because I know you can do better,” and once in a while we decide at our Friday morning meeting to take the rest of the day off and meet in Vegas by 3pm in the afternoon. Yes, we are working, but we’d like to have fun doing it.

In what ways do you participate in either the professional community or your local community to help others?

 When I was just starting out as a 25 year old CEO, I had a ton of amazing people who’ve “been there and done that” who helped me out. They still do! I pay it forward by extending my help (both for free and through my services) to other entrepreneurs. You learn very quickly as an entrepreneur that you don’t know everything and neither do the other CEOs, but by getting together and sharing knowledge and connections, we are all stronger in the end. Guy Kawasaki says it best – you’ve got to be a eater and a baker.

What major changes do you foresee in the accounting profession of the near future (3-5 years)?
There’s going to be a shift of talents. I believe that the accounting industry will take the road of manufacturing where the lower value curve tasks will be shuttled to a more affordable market. I am hoping our market here in the US gets moved up to where we are thinking, designing, and solving problems. Charging $3000 to clients so our own staffs could learn the difference between PDF and CSV export is offensive and just not sustainable. Those who aren’t capable of moving up the value curve will be forced to acquire additional knowledge or be out of the industry.   

How do you see yourself participating in shaping the future of the accounting profession?

I would like to think DeepSky is part of many others who are trying to bring value and relevance back to the profession. We sell knowledge and not commodities; and we (as an industry) need to start acting like it. Yes, there are part of our work that are mundane and certainly “unsexy,” but the purpose and results should be impactful in making people’s lives better. We will do our part in making sure the services we provide our customers are of relevance and value.
What is your career philosophy?

 Know, or know those who knows. Truth is, there are very few companies or ideas that are truly innovative and one of a kind. Our ego may lead us to think otherwise, but it is fair to believe that someone else in the world already have experience in doing what we want to be doing. By seeking them out and collaborating with them, we are able to learn and create at an accelerated rate. Success is not a zero-sum game. In fact, success tends to breed more success.
Not including your current employer, what company do you most admire and why?

ZenPayroll has been doing a great job in breaking the traditional mold of the payroll industry. While I work with them closely and have had connection with Joshua before, I think it’d be great to get to know him on a personal level. I’d be happy when DeepSky breaks the same mold of the accounting industry like they did with payroll one day.
Describe one person who has been an important mentor to you and how that person helped change your life.

I have many mentors and teachers in my life and they’ve shaped who I am today. My buddy Rich hates it when I call him my mentor but he certainly did change my life since we’ve met for the first time at a Vegas bar 3 years ago. The big change didn’t happen until 6 months after we’ve first met though when he and I am discussing about health, family, and entrepreneurship while chowing down Chinese food at 4 in the morning after a long night of drinking. Rich got me working out from that conversation – started with P90X, then Insanity, then cycling, then CrossFit, and now triathlons. My father had always said to me that all the wealth I acquire in my life will be measured in digits of 0s and that my health will be the first digit of this number. Without health, all the 0s will be worthless. Thanks to Rich, I now live a very wealthy life.   



Read more about this year’s 40 Under 40 Honorees.