Outgoing Brex CRO explains decision to join Founders Fund – TechCrunch
Welcome to the Exchange! If you received it in your inbox, thank you for subscribing and for your vote of confidence. If you read this as a post on our site, subscribe here so you can receive it directly in the future. Each week, I’ll take a look at the hottest fintech news from the previous week. This will include everything from funding rounds and trends to analysis of a particular space and hot shots on a particular company or phenomenon. There’s a lot of fintech news out there and it’s my job to stay up to date – and make sense – so you can stay up to date. Let’s go! — Mary Ann
Hey, hey – this will be a slightly abbreviated version of this newsletter, as Monday the 5th is a holiday here in the US and news has been a bit slower than last week. But there’s no rest for the weary, so here we go!
On Friday’s episode of the Equity podcast, Natasha, Alex and I discussed the small world of this venture capital community.
Just hours after the September 1 taping, we got wind of another example of this.
Forbes’ Alex Konrad reported that Brex Chief Revenue Officer Sam Blond is becoming a Founders Fund partner.
Today, it is not uncommon for CEOs or founders to move into full-time investment roles. But there were a few things about this news that made our ears perk up.
Earlier this year, Brex reached decacorn status with a $300 million raise. The bustling startup started life offering corporate cards to startups and over time evolved its model to include “a big push” in software and serve large enterprises with less focus on SMBs and small businesses. seeded startups. (The move was a bit controversial which caused surprise and some disappointment in the startup community.)
Now, if you’re chief revenue officer at a startup that’s on a growth trajectory, that seems like, well, a little unusual it is time to leave. Especially when Blond would have been one of the company’s first 20 employees.
Konrad wrote, “At the time, Brex had just one dedicated website and less than $100 in sales…more than four years later, the company has several hundred million dollars in annualized revenue.”
Most notably, however, Blond left Brex to join a venture capital firm that invests in one of the company’s biggest rivals in corporate spending, Ramp.
For those unfamiliar, Brex and Ramp have gone head-to-head for years.
Blond told Forbes that he made the decision to start “investing in startups full-time” earlier this year. According to the article: “He interviewed several companies, but ultimately settled on the one whose partner, Midas List investor Keith Rabois, had helped welcome him to the local tech scene. “I’ve always been impressed with Keith and, by reputation, with Founders Fund,” says Blond. “When I decided I wanted to get into venture capital, it was obvious that Founders Fund was the best option for me to explore.” ”
I reached out to Blond for her take on the news of a fintech lens. He was about to board a plane, but we nailed this short Q&A session:
TC: When did you leave the Brex exactly?
SB: I am still employed full-time at Brex. My last day as a full-time employee is just before starting at FF. We hired an amazing new CRO, Doug Adamic, to replace me, and I helped with the transition.
You told Forbes that you decided to invest in startups full-time earlier this year. What led you to make this decision and how long have you been investing in angel investing?
I’ve been an angel investor for about four years. I decided I wanted to do venture capital full-time for several reasons: (a) I really enjoyed angel investing, learned a lot, and believe I was able to really help companies in which I have invested to develop in the market. (b) I managed to join two of the fastest growing tech companies (Zenefits and Brex) with some of the best founders around (Parker, Pedro and Henrique). The combination of (a) and (b) gives me some level of confidence that I will be good at being a VC (choosing the right companies and helping them grow their income). (c) Brex has been a truly amazing experience, and the success we’ve had will be hard to replicate if I join another company. I am ready and motivated for a new challenge.
What will be your priority at Founders Fund? Are you going to invest in fintechs?
Erin Gleason, Founders Fund Communications Manager, answered this question:
FOR EXAMPLE: Sam will be a generalist investing across stages, sectors and geographies, like all of our partners, but is particularly interested in early-stage deals.
What do you think of Founders Fund being an investor in Ramp, one of Brex’s biggest rivals? Is this really a problem?
I consider Ramp to be an FF portfolio company as a coincidence. This did not influence my motivation to join, and my focus will be on investing and helping new portfolio companies. I am very loyal to Brex and to everyone with whom I have developed close friendships.
You were one of Brex’s first employees. What do you think of the future of the company?
I am very optimistic about the future of Brex. The team is amazing, and the strategy with Empower is differentiated and already seeing a lot of early success winning bigger businesses.
How lucrative is the buy now, pay later (BNPL) market? asks the editor of TC+ Alex William. “New data from Klarna and recent earnings results from Affirm make it clear that building a global business in the fintech space is far from cheap. Both companies, Affirm American and Klarna Swedish, are counting are among the largest players in the BNPL market today. They are now nearly equal in value. And both have recently released financial results.
Written by TechCrunch Ivan Mehta: “The Cash app from Block (formerly known as Square) now allows users to make payments on e-commerce sites outside of the Square network. Until now, users could only make payments than using Cash App Pay at Square terminals or Square merchant partners online. The company has partnered with American Eagle, Aerie, Tommy Hilfiger, Finish Line and JD Sports to launch with more merchants like Romwe, Savage x Fenty, SHEIN, thredUP and Wish to follow in the coming months.
While there have been several exciting funding deals announced in Africa this week (see next section for more), our man on the ground, Tagus Kene-Okafor, also wrote about how Kuda, a challenger bank based in Nigeria and the UK, “has joined the ranks of tech companies in Africa that are downsizing. News of the layoffs, which was first leaked to TechCrunch by sources, was confirmed by Kuda via email, saying it laid off less than 5% of its 450 employees, or about 23 people… C t was last August that the digital bank, which offers zero to minimal fees on cards, account maintenance and transfers and is one of Africa’s next icons, raised $55 million.
Financing and M&A
Seen on TechCrunch
Strong Banks $63 million to facilitate deployment of integrated fintech products
Fintech startup Alloy relies on fraud prevention to get new $1.55 billion valuation
Landa can make you a homeowner with just $5
YC-backed Nigerian startup Anchor sneaks out with over $1m to scale its banking-as-a-service platform
Duplo Digitizes Payment Flows for African B2B Companies and Secures $4.3M in Seed Funding
Kenyan fintech Pezesha raises $11m with backing from Women’s World Banking, parent company of Cardano IOG
Nigerian Gray Raises $2M for Cross-Border Payments Gaming and Regional Expansion
RentSpree obtains $17.3 million to develop its rental management tools
Wealth management tech startup VRGL raises $15M to help companies acquire clients and manage proposals
Well, that’s all for this week. Again, thanks for reading! If you are here in the United States, I hope you are enjoying this long holiday weekend and resting and relaxing. And if you’re not in the United States, I hope you’re resting and relaxing. xoxoxo, Mary Ann