On Sunday, Modern Treasury celebrated its fifth birthday. This milestone holds significance for a few reasons.
First, the date falls at an inflection point for the payments landscape. In recovery from recent banking turmoil and just before the launch of FedNow, the significance of resilience and efficiency are top of mind for many companies. Money movement will almost certainly look different at this time next year.
Second, in thinking back over the last five years, it’s wild to see how much change has occurred—both for Modern Treasury as a company and in the world around us. This milestone presents an opportunity to reflect on what’s come to pass and how we aim to build for the future. The following are a few lessons from Modern Treasury’s first five years that will likely continue to inform the next five.
Building infrastructure requires patience and persistence
Modern Treasury exists because payment operations are complicated, in large part due to the technology that supports them. Standing up the foundations of our company—building new infrastructure and integrating with existing bank infrastructure—was slow work that demanded grit. Most startups aim to show immediate, out of the gate success. This is next to impossible when building infrastructure, and founders of infrastructure companies have to be prepared for that.
When Matt Marcus, Sam Aarons, and I completed YC, we had created Modern Treasury’s product but weren’t yet live with our first clients. We had spent the bulk of time working with prospects and banks and standing up infrastructure—which in fact turned out to be one of our biggest selling points and vectors for success. That is, companies needed help with money movement but would not be able (or want) to build a comprehensive payment operations platform on their own. The outcome simply couldn’t warrant the time, resources, and cost required.
Leadership requires flexibility
In our time at Kiavi (formerly LendingHome), we had become certain of the need for our product. We had a strong vision for what Modern Treasury would and should be, and as the company grew, we held to it.
And as much as we’ve tried to forecast the future, history surprises us again and again. Leadership requires adaptability and swift responsiveness. No spreadsheet or forecast could have predicted the Covid pandemic, market oscillations, or bank crises of the past five years.
Modern Treasury hired its first employees in 2019, used coworking and temporary spaces before going fully remote in early 2020, and by September of 2021—when we opened the San Francisco office—the team had grown 5x. This wasn’t the plan we imagined but it helped forge a strong team. As we go forward, we know one thing: change is a constant, and we’ll continue to be surprised by future events.
Partnerships hold incredible value
To deliver on our vision, Modern Treasury needed to build a big ecosystem. Not only does building infrastructure take time—building trusting relationships across this ecosystem, especially with large financial institutions, is slow-going (and of course, worth it).
One of Modern Treasury’s value propositions is our product’s ability to serve as a central source for payments execution and data, the result of a significant (and ever increasing) number of key relationships. Major partners like Salesforce Ventures and SVB Capital invested in our Series C, fostering new innovation and specifically, our ability to build more integrations and forge wider partnerships. Modern Treasury’s partnership with Goldman Sachs Transaction Banking, as an example, has expanded the ability for both organizations to help shared customers like Procore expand. And we continue to build on our existing relationships and establish new partnerships as we grow.
A north star centered on product development drives growth
To date, product development has been our predominant focus. We have prioritized continuous, ongoing releases in an effort to keep increasing the value and functionality of Modern Treasury for customers. As founders, we deliberately kept the product flexible in order to support users in any industry—and our releases have been aimed at serving a wide range of companies.
Additions to our core payments offering like Ledgers have allowed Modern Treasury to better meet the needs of finance teams across verticals and use cases. With each new release, the company has also published extensive resources to help businesses (and builders specifically) get the most out of Modern Treasury—our Accounting for Developers series, inspired by a HackerNews thread, digs deeply into the core tenets of Ledgers. Recent launches of Modern Treasury’s Reconciliation Engine and Invoicing features are further examples of a commitment to the ongoing expansion of our product set.
Traction and reach can be surprising and delightful
Even though we believed in the value of our product, it has still been surprising for us at times to look back and see how Modern Treasury has caught on. Today, companies of all sizes, across so many industries (agriculture, real estate, events, travel, construction) and use cases (marketplaces, lending, embedded finance, payroll), are leveraging Modern Treasury to scale their companies. It’s incredibly gratifying and very energizing to see.
This milestone is also perfectly timed for our first user conference, Transfer, which will bring together so many examples of modern payment operations in action. On June 1, in San Francisco and online, Modern Treasury will be hosting a full day of in-depth conversations among payments experts focused on the future of money movement. Speakers from organizations including Altimeter, The Federal Reserve System, Procore, Bain & Company, Settle, ROH, Navan, Goldman Sachs, and others will discuss FedNow, scaling and embedding payments, the future of banking, and more.
We’re five years in, and what is past is prologue. We’re very grateful to all our customers, partners, and investors for being on this journey with us. And we’re excited for what the future has in store and for the new era of payments we are entering.
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