Monzo's Chief Product Officer heading off

I just announced at Monzo that I’m stepping away from leading Monzo’s product organisation. Now is a good time to do this because Monzo is doing incredibly well.

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Good spot… I wonder who they are going to replace him with.

I am kind of saddened that Monzo have hired here the type of person who’s very much into what I like to call “CV Gardening” - Facebook, then Deliveroo, then Monzo; the last two for only 2 years. This isn’t helped by Monzo also churning all but one of the founders - I guess one of the drawbacks of issuing a lot of shares rather than the usual golden-handcuff options strategy. Conceptual integrity counts a lot when building a complex product, and when there’s a rotating cast of characters going through a position as senior and critical in terms of product direction as this, the overall conceptual integrity of the product can succumb to entropy. And then there’s the problem that whoever comes to replace them usually sees things differently, often for worse, and, further, wants to “make their mark” for their own CV padding. And then the cycle repeats. Perhaps it would be better for Monzo to promote someone internally to replace him; at least then there would be more continuity of thought.

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I feel slightly nauseous after reading all that.

You just knew there was going to be reaching out involved even before you clicked the link.

genuine question, do all startup tech companies have this kind of Merry Go Round at the top or is this more a Monzo thing?

No. Usually people stay because they get options and they lose a lot of them if they leave. Startups do hire in people with experience as they get bigger of course - some early staff will be suitable for sneior management positions that they can grow into, and some will not - but the amount of churn at Monzo worries me. Like, all but one of the founding staff out pre-IPO? That’s steep, and usually they’d forgo a lot of upside for that, except here they didn’t. And what was the deal with Meri Williams, who was CTO for about 20 minutes? It’s a shame because that whole vision of a Financial Control Center is getting blurred and lost.

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I’m not convinced it’s a bad thing though, they are doing pretty well after all. It’s an interesting dynamic but you can only really judge on results.

It’s common everywhere.

The best way to progress your salary/title is to change companies. If you’re well regarded at a big well known company then another big well known company will happily take you.

Google/Apple used to have a no-poach agreement until it got made public.

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It’s common in industry in general, but less commmon in the startup sector.

To be fair to Mike, he’s been involved with Monzo for much longer than his role as CPO. He’s been working as an advisor for us much longer I have been.

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fair to say Mike is a bit of a legend in the digital community, and I know a lot of PMs (including myself) who consume the stuff he puts out as super useful insight on how to build better products and teams

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The next CPO, the third one, will presumably be C3PO… I’ll get my coat.

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I am kind of saddened that Monzo have hired here the type of person who’s very much into what I like to call “CV Gardening” - Facebook, then Deliveroo, then Monzo; the last two for only 2 years.

This makes me upset! Mike has done absolutely amazing things at Monzo. Almost every feature you love at Monzo was helped by Mike! Mike even pushed for Dark Mode!

He also has a well loved blog, and his talks on product are some of the most watched talks internally (so much so that even my team, who are not product, are heavily encouraged to watch!)

Per his blog:

I first got involved with Monzo three years ago when Tom Blomfield asked me if I wanted “a hobby” helping him build Monzo. That conversation led to me spending a day a week at the Monzo offices as an advisor. That day led to two, then three, then four days. By the end of 2019 I was basically doing a job and not just advising, and Tom asked me to officially join full time and accept a title. So I did.

He’s only been full time since the end of 2019, and coming on this was a “hobby” for him :slight_smile:

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Isn’t the non-exec part related to the charity?

Isn’t the non-exec part related to the charity?

Oooh probably!

I recently joined the Board of Trustees at BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity

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