Monzo Founder Swaps London for San Francisco, Joins Y Combinator

British fintech entrepreneur Tom Blomfield has left London for San Francisco in search of the next generation of startups.

(Bloomberg) — British fintech entrepreneur Tom Blomfield has left London for San Francisco in search of the next generation of startups. 

The 37-year-old, who co-founded payments company GoCardless in 2011 and digital bank Monzo in 2015, has become a partner at startup accelerator Y Combinator, according to a statement.

Blomfield has been a visiting partner at Y Combinator since 2021 when he departed from Monzo. He went through the accelerator program himself a decade previously after he “struggled to raise money in London.” 

He said in an interview that while the UK still had plenty of strengths for new businesses, the country was “not always favorable to ambitious founders who want to do something unusual.”

“Within Y Combinator the range of projects that get worked on, from AI, to space rockets, to supersonic jets, to nuclear fusion, it’s kind of breathtaking,” he said. “That ambition and that sort of belief that you can achieve anything I think is very, very powerful and intoxicating, and doesn’t exist as much in London.”

“The listing problem is very real” in the city, he said, adding it was “very brave” of currency platform Wise Plc to go public in London two years ago. “The US capital markets at IPO stage are much, much deeper and much more accepting of high growth tech companies. I don’t think that is going to change anytime soon.”

AI Investments

Blomfield will join around a dozen Y Combinator partners in mentoring about 300 firms globally each quarter. The startups get $500,000 to help their growth, and over 4,000 have been through the program since 2005 including Airbnb Inc., Dropbox Inc. and Stripe.

“I’m excited to keep funding fintech companies. But the big trend this year is AI,” Blomfield said. Around a quarter of startups in Y Combinator’s cohort in the first three months of the year were related to artificial intelligence, in the wake of OpenAI’s launch of ChatGPT.   

“This is a tidal wave that is coming that will transform not just the tech industry but the entire world. I think this is as big as the Internet,” he said.

From January through March, roughly $1.7 billion was invested in AI startups across 46 venture capital deals, according to PitchBook data. On top of this, Microsoft Inc. said in January it planned to invest $10 billion in OpenAI.

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