BIG news from Flutterwave. It is announcing that it has raised a series A “extension round” that brings its entire funding to date to $20 million – In 2016, Flutterwave raised $10 million, followed by an undisclosed Series A in August 2017. Joe Saunders, a global payments veteran with a rather intimidating resume and the chairman of one of Flutterwave’s larger investors (Green Visor Capital) has joined the Flutterwave board of directors.
In the same breath, it is also announcing that Iyin Aboyeji, something of a celebrity in African technology from his previous life at Andela, is stepping down from the CEO position at Flutterwave.
It’s a lot to take in. For your convenience, I have reproduced the Flutterwave Press Release as well as Iyin Aboyeji’s official statement on the development, you are welcome to skip right to that. Or you could also read a small story first.
In 2013…I think it was 2013, but it could have been 2012 too. Anyhow, sometime around 2012 and 2013, I found myself in some meeting at Stanbic IBTC’s Lagos offices on Walter Carrington that I vaguely recall was about fixing payments in Nigeria. I don’t really remember the details, but I was out of my league. Akin Oyebode, who was at the time head of SME banking, (which by extension meant startups), a dude from South Africa, Thabo Makoko, some banking engineers, fondly known by their non-tech banking counterparts as “IT guys”, and a sprinkling of technology entrepreneurs were in the room. Then, there there was yours truly, a random tech blogger whose only apparent reason for being invited was for penning a widely-read rant about how horrible Interswitch was for the payments ecosystem (emphasis on “was”). You know, as opposed to people who actually knew their shit.
Remember, this was 2012. The word “fintech” was not even a thing. Again the details of what seemed to me like an elaborate focus group elude me, but at least one of the people in that room went on to become an influential force in Nigerian fintech. He was one of the IT guys, and was quiet most of the time, but his face stuck with me because when he did speak, he seemed really pissed off at something and everything about payments in Nigeria. Four years later, Olugbenga “GB” Agboola would co-found Flutterwave with Iyin “E” Aboyeji in 2016.
If this is the first you’ve heard of Olugbenga Agboola, you can be excused. Little is known of Flutterwave’s other co-founders. Up till now, Iyin has been its public face and booster. His startup precedents and network were certainly instrumental to the startup’s ability to reel in big Silicon Valley investors to back it in its mission to build a payments and financial technology infrastructure that connects all of Africa. But Gbenga himself is no spring chicken and has had a long “IT guy” career that has taken him through PayPal, GTBank, Standard Bank/Stanbic IBTC and Access Bank in fourteen years.
The reticent CTO has now become Flutterwave’s CEO. Unlike E, you will probably not be running into GB at conferences or on Twitter, where E is notoriously controversial for his thoughts on business and Nigerian politics. Although, now that I think about it, we did convince GB to do an AMA on Radar while he was at Access Bank. It might be time for another one, but in his personal capacity as Flutterwave CEO, hmm.
Anyhow you slice it, Iyin’s exit at this point will raise big questions that nobody directly involved are keen to answer on the record. For now, at least. This is the second consecutive time he will be leaving a high-flying startup he has co-founded less than three years in. But like Andela before it, Flutterwave has become a massive company in the relatively short time it has been around, and its relentless upward trajectory hasn’t wavered. Save for a few mid-level exits that I noticed out of the corner of my eye in the last couple months, the rocketship seems steady. 70 people man its increasingly global operations, and massive companies like Uber and Facebook use their technology to receive payments from African consumers of their products. GB, who divides his time between the Lagos and San Francisco offices is focused on acquiring as many global customers as it can, forging key bank partnerships across the continent and launching Flutterwave’s flagship Rave product in new markets as quickly as they can.
For his part, Iyin says he will be catching up on sleep, and focusing on family. He is already an investor and adviser in a number of startups, but his statement suggests that he will be more active on that front in a big way that will become apparent at some point. He told me via text message that he won’t be doing anything official for the next few months.
Here is the full statement from Flutterwave and an official statement from Iyin Aboyeji.
FLUTTERWAVE COMPLETES SERIES A EXTENSION ROUND OF FINANCING, FORMER VISA CHAIRMAN AND CEO JOINS BOARD
Lagos, Nigeria – October 13th, 2018: Flutterwave, Inc. (“Flutterwave”) announced that it has completed its Series A Extension round of financing. The latest round of financing includes investments from Mastercard, CRE Ventures, Fintech Collective, 4DX Ventures, and Raba Capital, among others. Flutterwave has now raised over $20 million to date and its largest investors include Green Visor Capital and Greycroft Partners.
As part of the financing, current Green Visor Capital Chairman & General Partner and former Chairman & CEO of Visa, Joe Saunders, joined the Flutterwave Board of Directors.
In a separate development, Flutterwave CEO, Iyin Aboyeji, has stepped down to pursue family goals. In a farewell message, Iyin Aboyeji thanked the Flutterwave board and team.
“It’s been amazing working with the Flutterwave team to build another great African company and I’m excited for the future under its new leadership.”
Flutterwave Co-Founder, Olugbenga Agboola, will replace Iyin Aboyeji as CEO. Olugbenga Agboola is a Financial Technology Engineer, with core financial services technology experiences with Paypal, Google, GTBank, Accsss bank, Standard /StanbicIBTC Bank
Olugbenga Agboola, Flutterwave CEO: “On behalf of the entire Flutterwave team we wish Iyin luck in his future endeavors. Moving forward ; the entire Flutterwave team and I are excited for Flutterwave’s future and look forward to growing the company.”
Headquartered in San Francisco, Flutterwave is building modern payments technology and infrastructure for Africa to enable people and businesses to connect with the global economy.
Much like in mobile communications, Africa is leapfrogging traditional payments technology and Flutterwave is building the Pan-African infrastructure to become the standard bearer for modern payments. Flutterwave’s API makes it easier for the almost 24,000 businesses and individuals using its solution to process payments across Africa. The African market, marked by increasing cross-border requirements, multi-instrument and channel payments, and a drive for financial inclusion is primed for Flutterwave’s unique vision and offering.
Flutterwave is building modern payments technology and infrastructure for Africa. Its solution enables banks and merchants to replace multiple payment integrations with one simple API, which enables processing of any form of payment anywhere in Africa. Since its founding in May 2016, Flutterwave has processed over $2.3 billion in payments across 60 million transactions and partnered with Standard Bank, First Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Zenith Bank, Access Bank, United Bank for Africa, and Ecobank. Flutterwave clients include Transferwise, Flywire, Booking.com, JumiaPay, and Uber, amongst others.
PRESS STATEMENT: IYINOLUWA ABOYEJI’S DEPARTURE FROM FLUTTERWAVE
Today will be my last day at Flutterwave. After much thought and prayer I decided to step down from my role as CEO and focus on giving back to the startup community I owe so much of my success to.
Just a little over 2 years ago in May of 2016, myself and my co-founders at Flutterwave started on this unlikely and amazing journey to build payments technology and infrastructure that could connect Africa to the global economy and usher in a new wave of prosperity across Africa. We knew it would be an incredibly difficult and intriguing mission but we never imagined we would have the kind of impact we did so quickly.
Two years later the team at Flutterwave has built one of the world fastest growing payments business of all time from Africa, processing over 700 billion naira in payments across over 50 million transactions generating revenues in the billions of naira. Beyond its scale, its human impact has been profound, from connecting thousands of riders and drivers to daily enabling thousands of families in diaspora share prosperity with their love ones at home. It has been an incredible privilege to lead the team through an era of incredible growth and impact. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.
This would have been impossible without the hard work and genius of the talented team of young people who are Flutterwave, the incredible support of our investors and advisors and the good will of so many who have been our biggest champions and advocates.
Over the next few months as I figure out what is next, I’ll be catching up on sleep, spending time with my family and supporting and advising startups in our community (more to come on that)
Everyone who knows me well know what matters most to me is my lifelong commitment to building the future of our country and our continent. As I take some time to rest and reflect on the incredible experiences I have had building two world class African success stories at Andela and Flutterwave – I am excited about the opportunities the future of our continent holds and I remain dedicated to supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs who will go on to build the next Andela’s and Flutterwave’s.
Thank you for your love and support on this journey
Yours in trust,