Revolut co-founder Nik Storonsky set to join the multibillionaire club

Banking and payments app launched six years ago valued at £24bn in deal secured by 36-year-old CEO

The Revolut co-founder Nik Storonsky has said Elon Musk’s perfect combination of “rationality and craziness” makes the Tesla boss his leadership hero. Now the 36-year-old is set to join Musk in the multibillionaire club after securing a funding deal that makes the banking and payments app the most valuable British fintech firm ever.

The funding round led by Japan’s SoftBank and Tiger Global Management values the six-year-old firm at £24bn, making Storonsky, who holds a significant stake, a paper billionaire several times over.

The determination Storonsky has shown to drive the fledgling London-headquartered company to such success – Revolut has more than 14 million customers and operations in 35 countries – has been a personality trait evident since the Russian-born entrepreneur’s earliest years.

Born outside Moscow, Nikolay Storonsky boxed as a child and then took up swimming as a teenager, becoming state champion while at university. He studied for a physics masters degree at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and has a masters in economics at the New Economic School in Moscow.

A keen kitesurfer, he imported the long-hours culture of his time as a trader at Lehman Brothers, which he left before its collapse, and Credit Suisse to Revolut, which he launched in 2015. “I can’t see how work-life balance will help you build a start-up,” said Storonsky, who has said his typical day in the office is 8am to 10pm. “Either you are all in and you’re focused and you spend time on it, or you have little chance to survive.”

However, the drive to succeed saw Revolut hit headlines for all the wrong reasons, as details of a tough work culture that encouraged employees to work long hours and weekends emerged. Wired magazine published an internal email from Storonsky warning that those that underperformed would be “fired without any negotiations”.

Storonsky has sought to change the company’s practices and rehabilitate its public image, arguing that it was a tough startup culture that was unsuited to some of its earlier employees. The company recently introduced an equity participation plan for its now 2,200 employees, who have seen their stakes hugely appreciate after the latest valuation. As recently as last year Revolut, which saw losses double in 2020 to more than £200m, was valued at what now seems a relatively paltry $5.5bn (£3.98bn).

Storonsky has also faced scrutiny after it emerged that his father was a director at a division of Russian natural gas group Gazprom, which has been under US sanctions since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. The connection sparked controversy in Lithuania, where Revolut has its European banking licence, after politicians cited national security concerns, although a parliamentary investigation found no risks at Revolut.

Storonsky has long denied any Kremlin links and has said that the furore around his father, who he has said is “effectively a professor, an engineer”, is “a bit funny”.

The wave of investor interest in fintech firms, from Klarna’s recent $45.6bn valuation to the floatation of Wise last week with a £9.75bn valuation, has heightened speculation that Revolut could be next to go public. Storonsky has remained tight-lipped on the subject but on Thursday Mikko Salovaara, the company’s finance chief, refused to rule out the chance of a potential initial public offering by the end of the year, saying: “Never say never”.


Mark Sweney

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
From Tipperary to Silicon Valley: how Stripe became vital cog in digital economy
Brothers Patrick and John Collison’s online payments empire is now valued at $95bn

Alex Hern

17, Mar, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
Revolut: can the chancellor’s fintech favourite fix its image problem?
The UK’s would-be ‘Amazon of banking’ run by Nikolay Storonsky has raised alarm over delayed accounts, EU regulatory fines, its co-founder’s Russian ties and issues with staff

Kalyeena Makortoff and Anna Isaac

20, Feb, 2023 @5:00 AM

Article image
UK technology firms turn to Silicon Valley to ward off Brexit blues
Industry leaders from the north of England have embarked on mission San Francisco to woo top dealmakers in the US

Josh Halliday North of England correspondent

13, Apr, 2017 @6:59 AM

Article image
Revolut valuation makes little sense when compared with Lloyds | Nils Pratley
How can this six-year-old fintech firm be worth £24bn, supposedly 70% of Lloyds’ stock market value?

Nils Pratley

15, Jul, 2021 @7:19 PM

Article image
Revolut becomes UK’s biggest fintech firm with £24bn valuation
Surge comes after banking app raised $800m from new investors Tiger Global Management and SoftBank

Kalyeena Makortoff Banking correspondent

15, Jul, 2021 @6:57 PM

Article image
China orders Alibaba founder Jack Ma to pare down fintech empire
Central bank says Ant Group governance is unsound and tells it to rectify ‘illegal activities’

Rupert Neate

28, Dec, 2020 @1:50 PM

Article image
Fintech firm Revolut moves closer to UK banking licence after first annual profit
Company criticised for late filing of accounts made profit of £26.3m in year to December 2021

Anna Isaac City editor

01, Mar, 2023 @11:30 AM

Article image
Fintech firm Revolut assembles behavioural team after criticism of its corporate culture
Exclusive: Company denies creation of team to track overhaul is part of effort to secure UK banking licence

Kalyeena Makortoff Banking correspondent

16, Jan, 2023 @10:49 AM

Article image
‘Super app’ Grab to go public in record $40bn Spac merger
Singapore-headquartered firm offers one-stop shop-style service, including ride hailing, banking and food delivery

Mark Sweney

13, Apr, 2021 @1:59 PM

Article image
UK to start negotiations to join Asia-Pacific CPTPP trade treaty
Joining is central plank of Liz Truss’s plan to refocus UK trade relationships post-Brexit

Phillip Inman

02, Jun, 2021 @6:26 PM