Monday stood as banking and investing platform Stash’s first day with its newly minted CEO, Liza Landsman, in place, as the company prepares for a new growth phase and builds business-to-business product offerings.
Landsman, named to the role last week, was most recently general partner at venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates and has held leadership positions at Jet.com, E*Trade, BlackRock and Citi. She replaces co-founder Brandon Krieg, who will now lead business development at Stash. Co-founder Ed Robinson will remain president.
“My priority is running the core business and growing it sustainably,” she said. “[We want to] make sure that we are in the best shape so that all options are on the table for us, whether that’s private financing, whether that’s an acquisition, or whether that’s the public markets.”
The company is equally pursuing all options, despite earlier reports that suggested an IPO focus, Landsman said.
“She is the right person to lead Stash into its next phase,” Krieg said in a statement. “Fresh leadership can be so valuable to a growing organization as it scales.”
Founded in 2015, Stash, which was valued at $1.4 billion during its Series G fund raise, recently crossed $100 million in revenue, which has grown nearly 30% in the past 12 months. If the company continues on its trajectory, it could break even in cash flow within a year, Landsman said.
The subscription-based platform offers banking, investing and crypto investing. Last September, Stash rolled out a core system in partnership with Mastercard, Stride Bank, Marqeta, Mambu and Alloy. The company said its platform has more than 2 million active subscribers and roughly $3 billion in assets under management.
The emergence of a B2B business
Stash’s leadership change will allow Krieg to direct efforts to develop a new B2B offering that Stash plans to provide through employers.
“Stash is developing a new business that helps the biggest companies jump-start their employees’ journey to financial wellness, while also providing an easy way to offer stock rewards,” Krieg said.
The Stash employer-provided offering, which hasn’t yet launched, would likely include a similar product lineup to its direct-to-consumer business — including investing and retirement — and may also include some customization, Landsman said.
“Employers continue to want to add greater benefits and access for their employees and also want to ensure that they are finding greater paths to financial security,” she said. “Take, for example, our ability to take deposits and issue debit cards with ‘stock back’ [rewards]. … Think about the power that unlocks for a large employer.”
Weathering an economic downturn
Stash wasn’t immune to the wave of layoffs that hit the financial technology industry in recent months. The company cut 16% of its staff last year, bringing its headcount to about 420 employees. Despite challenging economic conditions, Landsman said she believes the company is well positioned for growth.
“We have great capitalization, and we’ve done a lot of heavy lifting to create the infrastructure and technology platform we need … to help steer through these challenging macros,” she said. “[We plan to] focus on the fundamentals, provide a great consumer experience and deliver on our promises.”
No further staff reductions are planned, said Landsman, who noted the company plans to bring in a couple of new senior hires and introduce some organizational changes.
Stash has also been providing guidance to customers on how best to weather tough economic times, including through “nudges and constraints in the product that are designed to push you toward consistently healthy and sustainable wealth creation,” she said.
Moving into maturity
Stash’s moves are typical of a startup entering a new phase of growth, and part of a strategy to steer through the current economic climate, analysts said.
“As tech startups age and transition from hyper-growth mode into mature businesses, leadership transitions are relatively common,” said fintech analyst Grant Easterbrook. “In the face of the broader tech industry retrenchment — where venture capital funding is scarcer and investors are more focused on profitability and controlling costs — a leadership transition to someone better positioned for the next phase of Stash’s life makes sense.”
Stash’s 2-million strong subscriber base is a foundation for further monetization efforts, said Ron Shevlin, chief research officer at Cornerstone Advisors. The challenge is to ensure these customers continue to grow their assets and take up new products.
“It comes down to the quality of that customer base,” Shevlin said. “[It] just might point to the opportunity to monetize and expand out. I think that’s what a lot of these business-to-consumer fintechs need to do.”
Landsman suggests her expertise working with financial companies of various sizes ensures she’s prepared to take on the challenge.
“The one thing I will say I really draw upon from my time working in large financial services organizations is understanding the critical need to provide a product platform and service offering that’s really tailored to the middle- and low-income parts of the country,” she said. “Many of those firms which are terrific and have wonderful products and services are really tailored and oriented around servicing the mass affluent.”