Stax Payments appointed British financial executive Paulette Rowe as its new chief executive officer, making her one of the few Black women to lead a finance company.
Rowe joins the Orlando-based payments unicorn from London-headquartered Paysafe, where she led the firm’s integrated and e-commerce solutions division, according to a statement on Tuesday.
She takes over from John Kristel, who was named interim CEO in January on the departure of Stax founders Suneera Madhani and Sal Rehmetullah.
“My immediate priorities are to meet customers and partners, get to know my new colleagues across all our offices, and strengthen the team with key new hires,” Rowe said by email. She said she will work on partnerships, including recent ones with Mastercard and PayPal, and also examine options to expand Stax internationally.
Stax was valued at over $1 billion in a March 2022 funding round that included Blue Star, Harbourvest and GSV. The firm hosts more than 30,000 companies on its platform, offering flat-fee subscriptions for processing business payments.
While valuations across the industry have come under pressure in the past few years, Rowe said Stax was growing with a strong cash position and had “no immediate plans for a fundraise.”
Stax was co-founded by American-Pakistani entrepreneur Madhani — one of the few women of color leading in the sector. In a LinkedIn note earlier this year, Madhani said she left the company after achieving the milestone valuation and is now working full-time on her coaching platform.
Rowe, who is Black British, will be taking on the baton. “I hope reading about my appointment and the appointment of other women of color will provide extra motivation to the many others out there who know they can too,” she said.
Around 14% of new unicorns — companies that reached a $1 billion valuation without joining the stock market — had any women on their founding teams in 2021, according to data company Crunchbase.
Rowe, who is from London but is now relocating to Florida, has previously worked at blue-chip firms including Barclays Plc, Meta Platforms Inc., NatWest Group Plc and and GE Capital.
“I know what’s required to scale Stax well beyond the $1 billion mark. It will be a different focus and strategy that I believe everyone is excited about,” she said.