Monzo / Starling founders discussion

A place to talk about the founders of everyone’s favourite neobanks.

A few guidelines:

  • Please stick to the code of conduct
  • Avoid personal attacks - if something can better be ascribed to the bank rather than the individual that may be a better approach
  • Be constructive, and post as if you were talking to the individuals concerned in person

If this gets too heated, or becomes unconstructive or circular, then the topic will be locked.


The conversation started in reply to:

(Source: Starling Discussion: Part 2 - #592 by TheoGibson)

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A pandemic wasn’t in anyone’s business plans (but should’ve been top of everyone’s risk registers).

But that’s the point, the same fate befell both Monzo and Starling, and whilst the former furloughed, then laid off staff, cut customer service hours and floundered about with business banking and monitising personal accounts, Anne saw a business opportunity and created jobs and a path to profit. Sometimes it’s the leftfield moments which define success or failure.

Boden’s a banker, and will have read the risks associated with CBILS lending correctly, and got a product out the door. Blomfield, the posterboy, meanwhile, had Monzo so far down a hole it almost got swept away, and certainly broke him.

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…was too busy complaining on Twitter that the pandemic meant he couldn’t get his usual artisan flour to bake with. Quite a stark contrast between the two. 100% true.

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Come on folk, let’s not make this personal.

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Agree things shouldn’t get personal but so far it looks like people are stating facts.

Both banks want us to believe that their respective founder was some Godlike figure that was going to change banking. One did and one might have done but only time will tell

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See, I’m not sure that’s true. But I’m not going to debate it - the point was that I think, with respect, @j06’s post would have been as relevant if it had omitted the last paragraph, or if the names had been taken off.

So: let’s discuss the banks, not the personalities. The former may lead to some interesting debate; the latter likely to a locked topic.

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But these banks are as much about the banks as they are the personalities of the people that founded them.

You’re essentially asking for a discussion about Apple without ever talking about Steve Jobs (both his good and bad qualities)

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I think the last paragraph is also relevant because the leaders are what set these banks apart. It cannot be denied that seasoned banking leadership means that Starling did better in the pandemic and has a better short term outlook

Whereas the visionary approach lead Monzo to briefly go into nosedive. Hopefully now it’ll be back on track again

I might’ve worded it differently but it’s still a very valid point

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I stand by what I said. Boden led the bank through the pandemic whilst Monzo was sacking people in two different continents to cut costs. There was such a massive contrast in leadership. Many months later, Tom has publicly said he was very unhappy - and that is totally OK. But he was the figurehead of this bank at the time - just as Boden was.

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So if folks want to start a Tom vs Anne thread, feel free. I’m not trying to ban anyone from mentioning the founders (as if I have that power!) - but these things tend to spiral downwards quickly. I’m not sure that such a topic would end well.

Tom and Anne had totally different visions on how to revolutionise banking.
Who are we to say who is right or wrong?
All being well, in a few years time, we’ll be discussing both of their success’s in making banking better for all of us.

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Tom had stood down as CEO and was taking time away so I don’t think it’s a fair comparison

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I don’t remember the exact timeline of when he stood down (but a quick Google shows sometime in May). That said, he became President - hardly removing himself from the public eye. You lead from the front.

My post wasn’t meant to be personal and insulting. To me both banks are synonymous with their respective founders, especially with the shared history at Starling. Both are visionary entrepreneurs, and I was trying to be respectful and expressing my sadness that running Monzo broke Tom.

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Oh. My original reply was a direct counterpoint to @TheoGibson’s post. Now, on its new thread it’s out of context and doesn’t make any sense. Got a bit caught up in my (not particularly important) last paragraph @Peter_G

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I’ve made a few edits (see the top post) to be clearer about the context. Sorry if that got lost in the move. Shout if I haven’t still got it quite right.

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All I can hope for in Tom’s retirement is a great new scarf collection.

You expect him to out-shawl the queen of shawls?! C’mon, be realistic bro.