While it seems as though the unicorn birth rate is declining, investors are still finding fintech enterprises to sink their teeth (and by “teeth” I mean wallets) into, like the five companies below. Our top five fintech raises this week include SaaS companies; e-commerce; crowdfunding for, er, startups; and insurance payouts, starting with a company that could potentially fund them all. The list is below:
While not a fintech company per say, in that it doesn’t actually make any of the toys, FTV Capital recently announced the creation of a $850 million fund specifically for fintech investments, so it could potentially lead to further growth and innovation in this space, which makes it relevant for this list. Among its potential investment areas in fintech, the firm has listed enterprise technology, payment innovation, and transaction processing, to name a few, citing the slow but steady creation of more and more digital services as a reason to invest in the industry. Currently the company has acquired thirteen startups according to Crunchbase, including Vindicia—a consumer subscription billing platform—this past week.
Tax compliance cloud software may just possibly be the least sexy combination of words you can create in fintech, even with the word cloud in there—but a group of five investors did just add almost $100 million to Avalara’s total funding, bringing that amount to about $319 million so it must be doing something right. Cloud-based enterprise software company Avalara, which creates compliance solutions for sales tax that integrate with existing software, raised $96 million in private equity funding, with investors including Battery Venture and Sageview Capital. The new growth will reportedly be used to buy out some existing shareholders, and $50 million of the sum will go towards acquisitions and expansion, as the company continues to build software so less and less people have to worry about tax compliance. Godspeed.
Israel-based crowdfunding firm OurCrowd announced a $72-million Series C raise last week, adding new capital to further the growth of Israeli startups. The Jerusalem-based firm has reportedly helped its users invest more than $300 million in startups, and though”sector-agnostic;” has made fintech investments as well as medical technology, machine learning, and cyber security. As stated by the company’s CEO Jon Medved, the company’s investments are certainly helping “the golden age” of Israel’s tech ecosystem flourish.
Ominichannel personalization platform Certona raised $30 million this past Friday, also in private equity funding, with the sole investor being Primus Capital. The San Diego-based company aims to increase customer engagement on over 500 e-commerce sites, according to Crunchbase, through the personalization of its platform, which leverages big data and predictive analytics to individualize the customer experience through the web site, email, mobile, in store, call center—the list goes on and on. Especially for ecommerce (with the most ready example being the slow-simmering war between Walmart and Amazon), customization across all channels is becoming more and more essential for the success of really any fintech venture.
“Tech-forward” consumer financial service Zero just raised $2.5 million in seed funding this past week, with the lead investor in a round of five being Eniac Ventures. The fintech “brand” aims to combine some of the best features of a debit card (like the balance oversight) with some of the best features of a credit card (like a rewards program) in order to create a consumer banking platform, according to Crunchbase. Zero customers use both the company’s mobile app and the “Zerocard,” a solid metal—solid metal? —Visa card which can vary in reward percentage and annual spending for rewards depending on the card level. There are currently four Zerocard levels—Quartz, Graphite, Magnesium, and Carbon. Quartz, the first level, earns users 1% cash back, while Carbon, the highest, earns 3% cash back and requires its users to spend $100,000 annually. The intrigue, however, doesn’t come from the rewards percentage but from the fact that the rewards are taken from a product, to quote directly from Zero, with “debit-style functionality.” However, users of this product will then have to come to terms with the fact that they have an annual spending quota to meet on a “debit-style” product, so it’s up to the customers to see if the switch works out.
The unicorn birth rate may be declining but the ones who are left seem to be living well: while Airbnb is not exactly a fintech company, it deserves notice for having raised $555 million, which, correct me if my math is off, is just $295 million less than FTV Capital’s entire fintech fund. Oh wait, the $555 million is part of an $850 million round the company filed to raise last month, so actually, the two match. This is definitely noteworthy, not just because the amount involved is ridiculous ($555 million. $555 million. For one company, in a single funding round. Can anyone tell I’m not used to dealing with unicorns?) but because the new funding might just make Airbnb’s valuation the anticipated $30 billion, inching it just that one notch closer to Uber–if Uber keeps its current valuation, which some doubt. Drama in the Enchanted Forest–aka Silicon Valley?
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