Tom Blomfield exits Monzo and opens up about mental health
Monzo founder, Tom Blomfield, has announced his departure from the challenger bank, after founding the fintech back in 2015.
His exit is set to come into effect at the end of January, and follows Blomfield’s decision to move roles in May, from CEO to president.
According to TechCrunch, Blomfield voiced his unhappiness to investor, Eileen Burbidge, founding partner of Passion Capital, and Monzo chair, Gary Hoffman, back in early 2019.
The soon-to-be former president realised he was “doing too much and not enjoying it”, acknowledging that the “scrappy start-up” days were officially over.
It’s time to “hand over the baton”, Blomfield told TechCrunch this week.
Start-up to key UK bank tackling COVID-19
Blomfield told TechCrunch back in May last year: “I went through all the stuff I love about my job, and it was all the stuff I did in the first two or three years.”
His sentiment hasn’t changed. “I stopped enjoying my role probably about two years ago,” he told TechCrunch this week.
“As we grew from a scrappy start-up that was iterating and building stuff people really love, into a really important UK bank.”
He explains: “Taking on a bank that’s three, four, five million customers and turning it into a 10 or 20 million customer bank and getting to profitability and IPO-ing it. I think those are huge exciting challenges. Just honestly not ones that I found that I was interested in or particularly good at”.
Whilst Blomfield admitted he was struggling pre-pandemic, when COVID-19 hit, it threw another spanner in the works.
“COVID-19 just exacerbated things,” he tells TechCrunch. It saw Monzo’s valuation plummet 40%, from £2 billion to £1.25 billion, in its first 2020 funding round, and the challenger placed 295 members of staff on the UK voluntary furlough scheme – as well as shuttering its Las Vegas office.
Blomfield himself decided to forgo his salary for a year and top executives took a 25% pay cut.
Amid the coronavirus chaos, Monzo and Revolut were also forced to combat – what later emerged to be “fake news” – rumours which suggested both had gone bust and that Monzo specifically had stopped paying staff. Blomfield personally responded to the Twitter storm, affirming: “Monzo is not going bust. Source: I am the CEO.”
Blomfield opens up over mental health
Monzo’s founder has also opened up about his “struggle” through COVID-19.
“I think [for] a lot of people in the world […] going through a pandemic, going through lockdown and the isolation involved in that has an impact on people’s mental health,” Blomfield adds.
“I don’t think I was any different, so I was really struggling. […] When I put my hand up and said, ‘I need help,’ they [exec team and investors] were super receptive to that.”
The move to president from CEO was designed to give Blomfield time to “get well” and review his time at Monzo – with the possibility of fully exiting on the table back then too, according to TechCrunch.
Blomfield says Monzo’s board wanted him to remain as CEO longer than he did, dispelling rumours the board forced him out.
“Going from a CEO where you’re front and centre dealing with all of the different pressures every day to a much lighter role is a huge huge weight off my shoulders.
“It has given me the time and space to recover. I’m now feeling pretty great. I’m enjoying life again”.
The fintech entrepreneur, who has signed up to be a volunteer vaccinator in the UK – which any citizen can do through St John’s Ambulance – says he may take himself on holiday in the next few months, post-lockdown.
Over to Anil and Bhatia
TS Anil, who took over as CEO back in May at Monzo, has steered the fintech through COVID-19 alongside Sujata Bhatia, who joined the challenger as chief operating officer last year.
The two have made progress with the fintech’s financials. As well as customers climbing 1.3 million since 2019, to five million, they have also achieved a total weekly revenue which is now 30% higher than pre-pandemic figures.
More than 100,000 customers pay for either Monzo Plus or Premium, which has helped the challenger ween off interchange fees.