Navigating the Storm: Mercury’s Response to Silicon Valley Bank’s Collapse

Helen Chong

Few events shake the tech industry to its core like the sudden collapse of a major player. In 2023, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) crashed, sending shockwaves through the financial ecosystem. As the FDIC took control, Mercury’s CEO Immad Akhund faced a decisive moment.

This is how they navigated the chaos and made decisions that would shape their future in a suddenly unstable landscape.

Leading Through the Storm

SVB's instability started as whispers, but by mid-week, it was a full-blown exodus. Suddenly, Mercury was flooded with SVB refugees seeking financial shelter. 

"Everyone needed a bank account, fast." Immad remembers. 

Mercury experienced a shocking surge in demand. This wasn't a time for business as usual. As the CEO, Immad mobilized Mercury’s 400-strong workforce into action. The goal was clear: provide a seamless onboarding experience for the influx of new customers.

They onboarded a tidal wave of new customers without drowning. This wasn't about growth—it was about being the lifeboat in a perfect storm. 

Projecting Confidence

As the chaos unfolded, one question echoed: "Is Mercury safe?" 

Immad knew that simply asserting their stability wouldn’t be enough. Customers needed tangible proof.

Here's how they quickly inspired confidence:

  • They extended their FDIC insurance—first to $3 million, then to $5 million.
  • They launched Mercury Vault, giving customers a real-time view of their money's location and protection.

These efforts weren't just about reassurance, but radical transparency in a time of uncertainty. Potential customers were assured their cash is safe with Mercury. 

From Problem to Product: The Mercury Way

When you're a startup founder, every problem looks like a product waiting to happen. The Mercury Vault wasn't a knee-jerk reaction—it was their battle-tested approach in action. Their team has been listening to customers' fears and had already built the core components of the product, the crisis just accelerated the release timeline.

"We didn't invent new solutions," Immad explains. "We repackaged existing ones to directly address the panic. That's the power of having a flexible product mindset."

They utilized their Mercury Treasury product, which allowed customers to access U.S. government T-bills through a money market fund, providing additional security and confidence.

Startups: Where Chaos is the Constant

Looking back, Immad doesn't sugarcoat it: "Startups are a rollercoaster.

He ticks off Mercury’s highlights: Launched in 2019, Covid obliterated 60% of their revenue in 2020, then they doubled it a month later. After that, the 2023 banking apocalypse arrived, full steam ahead. By that time, the team was comfortable responding quickly to extreme situations.

Immad's mantra on crisis leadership? "Underplay the good times, stay calm in the bad.

It's not about avoiding crises—they're inevitable. It's about building an organization that thrives on chaos. Each storm makes you stronger, faster, more adaptable. By the time SVB collapsed, Mercury wasn't just ready, they were in their element.

Beyond Survival: Building a Legacy

Mercury’s response to the SVB crisis was about reinforcing their long-term vision. They were building for sustainability and growth. As Immad puts it, "We're not here for a quick exit. We're building something that lasts."

There are three lessons that ambitious founders can take away from Mercury's response to the SVB failure in 2023:

  1. Get creative with product delivery by listening to customer needs
  2. Mobilize your team to respond quickly and effectively
  3. Reposition crises as opportunities for dramatic action and growth. 

In startups, change is the only constant. The collapse of SVB exemplified Mercury’s resilience and highlighted the importance of swift, decisive action and transparent communication.

Real-Time Insight: Fuel for Rapid Decision-Making

The SVB crisis underscored a critical truth: in the startup world, speed is everything. But speed without direction? That's just a fast way to crash and burn.

During the chaos, Mercury had to quickly restructure their team to handle an influx of new customers and revamp product development plans to address new market demands. Access to real-time financial statements, awareness of your cash position, net burn, and runway are crucial in these key moments.

With daily updated insights, your team can move fast while maintaining confidence in their financial understanding and decisions. For every opportunity, every partnership, every pivot—make sure you have the right numbers to inform your decisions. In a world where hesitation kills, staying ahead of your financials is crucial.

Puzzle turns raw data into actionable insights, instantly. No more guesswork, no more lag between decision and data. Try Puzzle today!  

For more insights and behind-the-scenes stories from top founders and finance leaders, tune in to the Turpentine Finance Podcast.

Share this post
Helen Chong
Growth @ Puzzle

Related posts