Featured Article

Brex refocuses on startups with hire of SVB veteran, ex-a16z operating partner

CEO: ‘Founders and startups have always been at the core of Brex’

Comment

Brex Founders
Image Credits: Co-founders Henrique Dubugras (L) and Pedro Franceschi (R) / Brex

Just over one year ago, spend management decacorn Brex declared that it was “less suited to meet the needs of smaller customers” in an announcement that caused shock waves in the startup community.

While Brex soon clarified that by smaller customers it meant small to medium-sized businesses and non-funded startups, the move still felt like a stunning reversal, considering the company had started its life as a credit card company for startups. The announcement came about two months after Brex announced a big push into software” and that it was placing greater emphasis on moving upmarket to serve larger, enterprise customers.

But then in March, Silicon Valley Bank imploded

Brex was one of the bidders for the early-stage and growth portfolios of the bank, which was known for providing a swath of financial services to the startup community. Ultimately, First Citizens Bank took over, but some of those former clients shunned the idea of working with such a large bank and opted to move their accounts to fintechs such as Brex, Mercury and Arc. While Brex declined to share specifics on just how many former SVB customers in total have migrated their accounts, it did say that it opened 4,000 new accounts and received $2 billion in deposits in the first week after the SVB shutdown alone.

That influx of new customers led Brex to rethink its priorities, and strategy.

Today, the company told TechCrunch exclusively that it has tapped Jason Mok, a former Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) operating partner and more than 16-year veteran of Silicon Valley Bank as its new head of startups. In his new role, which he assumed in April, Mok will be helping founders navigate both today’s macroeconomic environment and the recent banking crises, as well as the promise of exciting technologies like generative AI. 

Via email, Brex co-founder and co-CEO Henrique Dubugras told TechCrunch that “founders and startups have always been at the core of Brex.”

He added: “The community needs our support more than ever given the broader macro and collapse of SVB. When it came to hiring someone to lead our startups organization, it was crucial to find someone who shared Brex’s pride and passion for startups; Jason fits the bill.”

At a16z, Mok managed the firm’s seed fund. And at SVB, he served as the managing director and sector head of consumer internet. Interestingly, Mok’s father also worked at SVB in the early 1990s, in a similar capacity as Mok did.

“So I grew up around SVB,” Mok recalls. “I just grew up around Silicon Valley Bank, founders and entrepreneurs, scaling with companies and venture capital.”

While at the organization, Mok said he worked on everything from early stage to growth to venture to warehouse facilities to lending.

“I learned a ton. SVB was like the best place to get your ‘MBA’ for everything about technology, finance, startups and venture capital,” he said.

In 2020, Mok was recruited by a16z to serve as an operating partner to oversee corporate development before overseeing the firm’s seed fund strategy. He left the firm in September 2022, he said, to focus on family before getting recruited by Brex this spring to help lead its renewed focus on startups.

Admitting that he was “heartbroken” by what transpired at SVB, Mok said he was drawn to the opportunity of helping the startup community in a new capacity.

“SVB was a stalwart that enabled so much of what currently is the tech and innovation ecosystem. It was amazing to see so many different people and companies come out of the woodwork to really do their part in helping prop up the innovation system,” Mok said. “Specifically, it was amazing to see Brex step up the way that it did.”

Image Credits: Jason Mok / Brex

In his new role, Mok said he will be helping guide the post-SVB opportunity for Brex and how the company is “thinking about delivering for startups in the future.”

“Brex is the only non-bank alternative offering a full financial stack, including banking, bill pay and credit cards,” he told TechCrunch. “I’ve joined to add some additional leadership strategy and reaffirm Brex’s commitment to delivering to startups. Over time we have expanded to serving enterprises but startups and founders are at the core of what we do and we want to make sure we continue to iterate, evolve and grow with founders as they scale beyond startup.”

Part of that, Mok said, will include discussing with founders what they need in terms of products so that they can “scale faster and iterate better.”

The company also wants to be more present physically, by hosting events in various cities such as San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, for the startup community and offering more “Brex ambassadors” that can serve as the face of the brand that founders, operators and VCs can go to for advice, perspective and connections to other founders.

“I’ll be overseeing all of that and really our go-to-market function,” Mok said.

He’ll also help with the further building out of Brex’s business accounts as well as “further optimizing and improving” the company’s onboarding process.

Brex said it has also named Nadav Lidor as the company’s lead for banking products catered to startups. Lidor, who leads Brex’s Israel office, will be focused on Brex business accounts — cash management accounts with FDIC insurance through partner banks and a suite of money movement tools across ACH, wires and checks. 

In late May, Brex shared that two of its products — Empower, its spend management platform, and Brex business accounts — had “each achieved $100 million in ARR,” or annual recurring revenue.

The company added that since launching Empower last year, Brex has signed on companies such as Coinbase, Indeed, SeatGeek, Lemonade and DoorDash, among others. It also said that its business accounts, which it describes as cash management accounts with a suite of money movement tools across ACH, wires and checks, had seen “rapid growth due to the ease of use and up to $6M in FDIC insurance coverage.”

Brex also recently announced it was going global.

Want more fintech news in your inbox? Sign up here.

More TechCrunch

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €284M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft wants to make Windows an AI operating system, launches Copilot+ PCs

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

When I attended Automate in Chicago a few weeks back, multiple people thanked me for TechCrunch’s semi-regular robotics job report. It’s always edifying to get that feedback in person. While…

These 81 robotics companies are hiring

The top vehicle safety regulator in the U.S. has launched a formal probe into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family…

VinFast crash that killed family of four now under federal investigation

When putting a video portal in a public park in the middle of New York City, some inappropriate behavior will likely occur. The Portal, the vision of Lithuanian artist and…

NYC-Dublin real-time video portal reopens with some fixes to prevent inappropriate behavior

Longtime New York-based seed investor, Contour Venture Partners, is making progress on its latest flagship fund after lowering its target. The firm closed on $42 million, raised from 64 backers,…

Contour Venture Partners, an early investor in Datadog and Movable Ink, lowers the target for its fifth fund

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

1 day ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions