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Dutch payments unicorn Mollie bags new CEO

Shane Happach, who has spent more than a decade at Worldpay, will take over the reins at Mollie in April.

By Ryan Weeks

Amsterdam-based payments firm Mollie has hired a new CEO following the surprise departure of former boss Gaston Aussems mid-way through last year.

Shane Happach, who has spent more than a decade at Worldpay, will take over the reins at Mollie in April, the company announced on Tuesday. He had been head of global eCommerce at Worldpay since the start of 2016.

Happach told Sifted he has been in discussions to join Mollie since the summer of last year — roughly the same time that the company secured a €90m Series B investment.

The round was led by TCV, the California-based late stage VC firm that’s also backed Revolut, Klarna and Facebook.

“Clearly TCV was a major reason for me to join. I think the team is super impressive,” said Happach.

“They had looked at a number of companies, had done a lot of homework, so the fact that they put [money] into Mollie only after that level of in-depth research on European payments gave me a lot of confidence to join the business.”

Mollie is a payments processor focused on catering to the needs of more than 110k European merchant customers of varying sizes.

Launched all the way back in 2004 by Dutch entrepreneur Adriaan Mol, who is also the founder of communications business MessageBird, Mollie was bootstrapped until taking its first private investment in 2019 from a group of angel investors which, according to Crunchbase, included Klarna-boss Sebastian Siemiatkowski.

In a crowded and heavily capitalised merchant payments market, Happach thinks his new employer’s European roots to be a key differentiator. He said that while the likes of Stripe and PayPal are trying to “cover the whole world”, Mollie is focused on hyperlocalisation.

“The Mollie strategy at this stage is not to just blanket the earth and try to launch in 60 countries at once, because really the product offer is about a high degree of personalisation and a meaningful degree of local market knowledge,” he added.

Gaston Aussems, who had served as Mollie’s CEO since 2013, surprised observers last year by leaving the company shortly before the announcement of its Series B raise — which had conferred a ‘unicorn’ valuation on the firm. Aussems’ LinkedIn profile suggests he stood down as CEO in August. A few months later, he told Dutch publication Silicon Canals that the company had outgrown him.

“I think it was just a natural moment for him as the company took its first ever really large venture investment. That comes with a level of scaling up expectations and Gaston was happier in a much smaller business,” Happach told Sifted. “That’s quite a shot of turbo when TCV comes in.”

Though rooted in Europe, Mollie has expanded into the UK market in recent weeks. Further international expansion does not appear to be on the cards in the short-term, however.

“As I think about where the business should go next, it’s probably deepening what it does in Europe rather than for example entering the US or something like that,” Happach said.

“It would not be an insane prediction to say the company will double its headcount, it’s just a matter of whether that would be in 12 months or 18 months or does it go out to 24.”

Ryan Weeks covers fintech at Sifted. He tweets from @RyanJamesWeeks and coauthors our new fintech-focused newsletter. Sign up here. 

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