Revolut’s kite surfing founder rides the wave of fintech to reach a valuation of 33 billion U.S. dollars
When Revolut first became the most valuable financial technology company in the UK, Nikolay Storonsky was disappointed.
A person who has worked with him on this transaction said that last year’s round of financing put his company’s valuation far ahead of any British counterparts, reaching 5.5 billion U.S. dollars, but the CEO “really wants US dollars or more”. “In some ways, his view is’it was too cheap before’… He has a very optimistic mentality.”
This week, Storonsky, the digital bank co-founded six years ago, took another step forward. $800 million in fundraising went to Revolut A valuation of 33 billion U.S. dollars makes it The largest private technology company in the history of the United Kingdom is also one of the largest private technology companies in the world.
Revolut was hailed by senior figures including Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as the “great British financial technology success story”, although Storonsky himself did not stay to celebrate.
Although the company’s chief financial officer Mikko Salovaara announced the fundraising to reporters on Thursday morning, his CEO is already on a rare holiday-kite surfing in Rhode Island.
Martin Mignot, an early Revolut investor at Index Ventures, said: “Even in very stressful situations, this is how he maintains pressure.” “He is completely calm and composed… I don’t think he ever doubted his success.”
This trip tells about the priorities of the 36-year-old former investment banker. He has a reputation among colleagues and peers because he is an avid and hardworking worker, obsessed with data, and uses hands-on methods to build Revolut products. , But not very interested in the performance skills and sales skills of some well-known technology entrepreneurs.
“I never agree with the CEO’s role as a salesperson, or just a visionary,” Stolensky told the Financial Times. “You need to have a vision that we all want to achieve…[but]Every manager needs to know the details. If they don’t do this, they cannot change the direction of the company, and they cannot distinguish what is good and what is bad. “
Storensky was a stock derivatives trader, he studied physics at university and was a competitive swimmer Create a revolution Collaborated with Chief Technology Officer Vlad Yatsenko in 2015. It was launched in London as a prepaid debit card to provide frequent travelers with cheap foreign exchange, but has since expanded to more than 30 countries, providing services ranging from commodity transactions to commercial banks.
His long-term goal is to create a “super application” that provides all the financial services customers may need in one place. Mignot said that this concept shows Storonsky’s “contrarian” thinking, when other fintech companies focused on narrow niche markets.
“The British are very conservative,” Stolensky said. “People don’t set grand, ambitious goals. It’s best to set medium goals with a high probability of success. But in order to be truly big, you really need to fight for ambitious goals, which seems unlikely.”
His motivation is the key to attracting investors — he said the latest round of financing was completed in less than three weeks — and ensuring that Revolut’s valuation reaches $33 billion.
A former staff member said: “Can what Revolut does so far justify this number? It must not. But they produce so many new products so quickly… To be sure, Stollens Kee is a beast, he created this product machine that will take over Europe or the world.”
Storensky said the company is ahead of its competitors because it “does better than everyone else.” Nonetheless, some critics still see supporters as high standards and motivation as a radical way to encourage a tired workplace culture, especially in the early days of Revolut.
TCV partner John Doran is the main investor in Revolut’s 2020 fundraising. He said: “Nick is a visionary with high standards and extraordinary ambitions. His management style may not be the same for everyone. Like the method, but he is data-driven, methodical and always fair.”
He added: “In the years we have known each other, Nik has grown substantially as a leader.”
Storonsky and Martin Gilbert, founder of Aberdeen Asset Management and Chairman of Revolut, formed an unlikely duo. His reputation is the exact opposite of Storonsky’s-Gilbert is a man who organized a whiskey party at the World Economic Forum in Davos. And the famous city figure.
Storensky has said that he appreciates the advice of people who have decades of experience in creating and operating large financial companies, while many “expert” investors in the technology industry have little practical experience in establishing companies.As far as Gilbert is concerned, this week he said “people misunderstood [Storonsky] Quite dramatic”.
“He has a great sense of humor…[and]He is a good listener, which many people cannot see. He doesn’t make too many mistakes-he is capable of answering a question, and then will not fill the awkward silence. People mistake it for other characteristics. “
In the eyes of some investors and employees, Stollensky’s reputation for indifference was also exacerbated by xenophobia-he was a British citizen but was born in Russia, and his father was in a department of the state-owned gas company Gazprom. jobs.
His Russian connections caused particular controversy in Lithuania, and Revolut provoked the outrage of some politicians after obtaining its first banking license in 2018.
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The company is also facing excessive scrutiny on whether its rapid growth will be excessive. Compliance officer Keeping up has prompted substantial investment in strengthening the system and recruiting staff to appease the regulators and help them obtain new permits.
This week’s financing pushed Revolut’s valuation higher than NatWest, one of the largest high street banks in the UK, with 453 billion pounds of customer deposits, while Revolut is valued at 4.6 billion pounds. This comparison has led several bankers to describe the investment as “crazy”, but Stolensky said he is pleased that traditional banks continue to doubt the company.
“If people and banks don’t take us seriously, our path will become easier. We can hide and steal and move faster. Hopefully, one day they wake up and there is no business.”
Additional reporting by Tim Bradshaw