Inovia partner, and former Google executive, Patrick Pichette has joined Wealthsimple’s board of directors.
Pichette currently serves as the chair of Twitter and Lightspeed’s board of directors. He brings over 30 years of financial and operating expertise at companies like Google, McKinsey, Sprint Canada, and Bell Canada. Pichette is replacing Wealthsimple board member Bertrand Badré, CEO of Blue like an Orange Sustainable Capital and former CFO of the World Bank.
“He will be a tremendous resource for our team, putting us in an even stronger position to seize the opportunity in front of us,” said Wealthsimple’s Michael Katchen.
The move follows Montréal-based Inovia’s recent investment in Wealthsimple’s $750 million CAD funding round, through which the Toronto-based FinTech startup secured a $5 billion valuation. The round was co-led by Greylock and Meritech, and saw Meritech’s general partner, Max Motschwiller, join Wealthsimple’s board of directors. The round also included a $500 million secondary offering to the PCC Group (Power Corp, IGM Financial, and Great-West Lifeco), which remains the largest shareholder in Wealthsimple.
Twelve people currently sit on Wealthsimple’s board of directors according to the company’s website. In addition to Pichette and Motschwiller, the startup’s board includes two Wealthsimple seats for Katchen and co-founder Brett Huneycutt, four Power Corp-affiliated seats, and one seat apiece for Purpose Investments, Allianz X, Assetmark, and TCV. Paul Desmarais III, chairman and CEO of Sagard Holdings, Power Corp’s alternative investment arm, currently serves as the chair of Wealthsimple’s board.
Pichette has a lot of experience to draw on in the new role, as he presently serves as board chair of Lightspeed and Twitter. He also served as Google’s CFO from 2008 to 2015, where he played an important role in the company’s growth strategy, the creation of the Alphabet corporate structure, and was involved in Google’s corporate merger and acquisition (M&A) agenda.
“Wealthsimple has revolutionized how Canadians interact with their finances by bringing smart, simple, and innovative digital financial products to market,” said Pichette. “Inovia was excited to become an investor in Wealthsimple in May, and I am thrilled to be joining the Board and work with a team that is passionate about the mission of helping Canadians achieve financial freedom.”
The addition of Pichette follows a year of significant growth for Wealthsimple, which saw its stock trading app Wealthsimple Trade ride the meme stock frenzy in January to number one on Canada’s app store. The startup also launched its new peer-to-peer payment app, Wealthsimple Cash, and sold its United States book of business to Betterment in March, claiming a renewed focus on Canada.
“The financial services industry is in the midst of an incredible transformation,” said Katchen. “Patrick’s experience guiding innovative companies through periods of rapid change will help position Wealthsimple for long-term success.”
“We have watched closely Michael and his team build Wealthsimple over multiple years, growing from a robo-advisor into the fastest growing investment management platform in Canada,” an Inovia spokesperson told BetaKit. “We believe that their experienced management team, combined with a strong value proposition for consumers seeking mobile-first financial management solutions, will enable the company to successfully expand their market position and offering in Canada.”
Wealthsimple currently has its sights set on conquering the Canadian market. However, during a recent panel for BetaKit Patreon supporters, Katchen revealed that despite selling its US book of business, Wealthsimple still plans to pursue international markets.
“We have a deeply loved and known and trusted brand, we have this really interesting market leadership across a series of products that we do, we have this opportunity to become the leading consumer finance business in [Canada], and we’ve got to go do that,” said Katchen. “But our ambitions remain beyond Canada, and certainly we’re excited about other markets in time.”
Feature image of Patrick Pichette, courtesy of Inovia