Changes are afoot at Tide, the U.K. fintech startup that offers banking services for small businesses. TechCrunch has learned that founder George Bevis is planning to step down as CEO, and that the nearly three-year old company is actively headhunting for his replacement.
It comes at a time when Tide — which counts 30,000 small business sign ups — is said to be entering ‘scale-up’ mode, with a headcount approaching 100 employees, and ambitions to expand internationally. Earlier this week the service saw a rebrand, including a new ‘vertical’ design for the Tide card and the slogan “Do Less Banking,” a reference to the startup’s mission to make the lives of small business owners easier.
The company also announced that it had got a regulatory upgrade and is now authorised as an electronic money institution by U.K. regulator the FCA. This gives Tide more direct access to banking infrastructure and means that over time it will be less reliant on third-party providers and can have more flexibility in how it serves customers, although it still hasn’t (yet?) chosen to apply for a fully fledged bank license.
Confirming that Tide is recruiting a new CEO, founder Bevis gave TechCrunch the following statement:
“I’m a small business-focussed guy who’s had the privilege of building an amazing company serving small businesses. Now our own business isn’t small any more it’s time for me to think about bringing in someone who knows at least as much about international scale-ups as I know about U.K. startups. Tide will stay focussed on saving small business owners time — in future all across the world. I’m looking forward to continuing to play a key role, both inside the business and on the board”.
I’m told by sources close to the company that the decision to start recruiting for a new CEO was instigated by Bevis in discussion with the Tide board, who are fully supportive. The thinking from the Tide founder is that now is a good time to look for a CEO experienced in scaling a company as the early-stage founding job is materially complete, including developing the core Tide product and finding market fit.
Meanwhile, I understand from a source that the new CEO will be tasked with executing Tide’s growth plans, which, along with international expansion, will include evolving the startup to a full SMB banking platform play that will see it continue to plug into providers of other bank related services for small business and further commercializing through revenue-share deals. The idea is that by creating a Tide ecosystem, the company “can scale far beyond the size of any single individual provider”.
To that end, Tide has secured over $16 million in funding to date from VCs including Creandum, LocalGlobe, Passion Capital and fintech specialist, Anthemis, as well as well-known angel investors including Errol Damelin (Wonga), Alex Chesterman (Zoopla/ZPG) and William Reeve (Lovefilm, Graze, and currently CEO of Goodlord).