The founder and CEO of Unlockd Matt Berriman has announced he is stepping down to focus on his mental health.

In an open letter published on Medium yesterday, Berriman said he was struggling to balance his treatment for bipolar disorder with the demands of running the high growth startup.

The Australian startup, which offers consumers rewards in exchange for watching ads on their smartphone, was launched three years ago and now has 55 staff in five countries. At the end of 2017 the company said it had achieved a annual recurring revenue rate of $20 million.

“Throughout the journey I began to experience symptoms, which I attributed for far too long to stress, lack of sleep and the startup roller-coaster. What I did not know at the time was I was fighting a battle with bipolar disorder,” Berriman wrote.

“Over the last 15 months, despite continuous and multi-faceted treatments I’m still struggling to return to my optimal holistic health, and as a result I now need to put a larger commitment in place to con-currently prioritise my health with my commitment to Unlockd.”

Berriman is moving into the role of executive director of Unlockd and will focus on major shareholder relations, overall strategic direction and corporate development.

Unlockd COO Jane Martino will become the new CEO. “This is a role she has effectively been playing for some time now behind the scenes as I continued balancing my own personal health challenges with being the founder and CEO,” Berriman wrote.

“This has been an agonising decision professionally and personally, especially knowing the public nature of our business and those that surround it. However, great companies don’t rely on one person, and Unlockd is no different.”

Berriman said he hoped publicly discussing his decision to step aside would help engender greater awareness of mental illness.

“Hopefully in some incremental way it helps the community better understand that mental illness — which affects one in five people — doesn’t discriminate, whether you are a professional sports person, high flying executive, small business owner, employee working 9 to 5 at the local butcher or a parent at home with the kids … And nor does it debilitate someone’s ability to achieve their goals,” he wrote.

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