Women in tech

‘You can’t have it all’: Lucinda Duncalfe on her departure from Monetate

In an interview with, the longtime CEO opens up about her decision to step down.

Lucinda Duncalfe speaks at the fifth annual Monetate Summit, May 2015. (Photo courtesy of Monetate)
Two factors drove Lucinda Duncalfe’s decision to leave the CEO seat at Monetate, the customer experience personalization company she’s led since 2014. The main driver: Her 15-year-old daughter’s chronic Lyme disease.

“Despite having balanced things well in the past, with that thrown in the mix, it was impossible to sustain,” Duncalfe, who now lives in Brooklyn, told in an interview Monday morning. “At the same time, from a true business sense, it was good timing.”

Monetate, which went through a round of layoffs in 2017 as it relocated its headquarters to New York, now enjoys a solid financial stance and several consecutive quarters of profitability, Duncalfe said.

“We have a very strong product and financial footing and it’s time for someone to make the best of that opportunity,” said the exec, who will now focus on providing care for her daughter and enter an “essentially half-retired” state as she gears up to offer coaching for Series-A-level execs.

As newly-minted CEO, Asheville, N.C.-based tech exec Stephen Collins will be relocating to Philadelphia to stay near the company’s Conshohocken headquarters, where around 100 of the company’s 150 staffers are based.

“I’m excited about the company’s mission,” Collins told “But specifically I make decisions based on people. The moment I was contacted by one of the investors and when I had breakfast with Lucinda we had a really good connection in terms of our philosophy. I respect everything she has achieved as CEO over the past years.”

Ask Duncalfe — a serial CEO of tech companies in the Philly area like Real Food Works, ClickEquations and TurnTide — what lessons her Monetate tenure yielded and she’ll quickly list two.

“On one level, it’s about being very aware of where your market is,” Duncalfe said. “When I joined, we made the assessment that the A/B testing market was starting to slow and we made a number of key strategic decisions. It pays to be very fine-tuned about what’s happening in your market.”

For the second, she reminisced on the two-year, $20-million push to move Monetate into the personalization space, which led to customers like Timberland, NatGeo and True Religion.

The onus is now on Collins to deliver on selling more brands on Monetate’s technology.

“We have a fantastic set of products and it’s time to shout that from the rooftops,” Collins said. “Lucinda and the board have charged me with customer excellence and getting that out into the market and getting the company growing.”

We asked Duncalfe for a final message aimed at the rising class of female tech execs, both in Philly and beyond.

“Specifically for women, I’ll say that you can’t actually have it all,” Duncalfe said. “There’s been a storyline that you can do the kind of work we do and also sustain a life at home, and that’s true, you can, but you’re always going to feel like you’re not doing what you’re supposed to. It’s important to keep realistic expectations and understand that you’re making a trade-off.”

Companies: Monetate

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