Life beyond Wise

Taavet Hinrikus

Over a decade ago, Kristo and I were outraged by the sky-high fees banks charged us to transfer money between the UK and Estonia. So we started a Skype chat with a few friends to transfer money between ourselves at the real exchange rate. The idea for (Transfer)Wise was born and the rest is history.

Kristo and I have spent the last eleven years building a company, which has done pretty well. With Wise we’ve made moving money around the world 10x better. We have always been surrounded by fantastic people, who help us make rapid progress on achieving our mission of money without borders.

Over those eleven years, 11 million people and businesses have joined us, saving themselves over £1 billion every year. Our Wise account and debit card is available to millions more people than it was a year ago. Even some of the banks we denounced are using Wise today. And we’ve achieved all of this growth in a sustainable way. Wise has been a profitable business for the 5th year running.

We’ve never shied away from a challenge. Earlier this year, we went from TransferWise to Wise and completed the first direct listing on the London Stock Exchange.

Personally, I’ve completed the full circle of entrepreneurship: start a company, scale it, take it public and let it go on its own journey in the public markets. So it feels like the right time to officially step down as Chairman of the Board.

I’m excited to hand over the reins of Chairman to David Wells. David has been an important member of the Board since 2019 and I know the Wise Board will be in great hands under his leadership.

Supporting the next generation of founders

A few years ago, I stepped away from the day-to-day running of the business. Wise has gone from strength to strength under Kristo’s watchful eye as CEO, and the company is set up for success. While I will always stay Wise’s co-founder, I have other things I want to focus on in the near future.

I will continue to be involved in Wise in some capacity, including our annual search for the best young entrepreneurs under 20. If you’ve started your own business and are between 16 and 19 years old, keep your eyes peeled for the launch of our 5th 20 Under 20 competition.

Over the past few years, I’ve been on the lookout for businesses who build things the world needs. I’ve invested in more than 150 of them and I’m eager to see them disrupt outdated industries and bring true innovation to millions of people around the world.

I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of the Skype mafia, as Skype’s first employee. Skype helped the tech ecosystem in Tallinn flourish and many former people at Skype have now started their own successful companies. Wise is one of them. Today, the Wise mafia is emerging left, right and centre. So many former Wisers are building their own successful businesses and I’ve joined some of them on their journeys as an investor.

I’m convinced that good investors need scar tissue that only comes from living through the experience of scaling a company. They need to have experienced the blood, sweat and tears that come with being a hands-on founder or operator that builds a business. There are too few of those out there, especially in Europe. As the tech ecosystem grows, more of those founders and operators with real scar tissue will help the next generation of founders and that will ultimately benefit a new generation of European startups. Personally, I’m looong on Europe. It took me a decade to build one iconic company, in my next decade I'd love to help a 100 or 1000 of these.

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Money without borders

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