Most of my personal and fund investments the last thirteen years have been fintech – from starting Wallstrip in 2006 (acquired by CBS) and Stocktwits in 2008, to investments in YCharts, Robinhood, ChartIQ, Koyfin, Lifelock, Billguard (acquired by Prosper), Produce Pay, Civic , Apple Pie, Etoro, Rally RD, Coinmine, Crowdability, Sentieo, AngelList, Stackin, Secfi and Alpaca. I began thinking about the next Etrade, Bloomberg (social), Yahoo Finance and CNBC back in 2005 when I was an unhappy hedge fund manager. This was before AWS, Bitcoin, Stripe, Shopify, The iPhone, Venmo, Square and Plaid.
Here we are in 2020 and Angela Strange of a16z has a good presentation out at the end of last year arguing that ‘Every Company Will Be a Fintech Company‘.
I think Angela is stretching just a bit, but I do understand her messaging. For example if you are an e-commerce company or DTC Brand, you rely on Stripe, Shopify and AWS for growth…so fintech permeates just about everything in 2020.
It has been exciting to watch the growth in many of our Social Leverage portfolio companies as fintech has exploded. I wanted to take a few moments to write about a few of our portfolio companies in the news. Since everything just might be fintech I will even update the least ‘fintech’ company in our portfolio, Manscaped.
As a reminder, our fund makes first check seed investments in companies.
A New York hedge fund is injecting $550m into the grey market for start-up employee share options by providing financing for SecFi, a platform that allows workers to cash out without waiting for their companies to go public.
The big bet by Serengeti Asset Management, which manages more than $1bn in private and public debt and equity, is another example of the competition among hedge funds and other non-traditional investors for access to late-stage private investments.
The funding comes as technology start-ups such as Palantir and Stripe are choosing to avoid the scrutiny of public markets in favour of taking financing from private investors.
That has left many employees sitting on millions of dollars in untapped stock options. SecFi, which bills itself as the first “pre-wealth management platform”, uses so-called forward purchase agreements to supply employees with cash in exchange for proceeds from future share sales.
According to SecFi chief executive Wouter Witvoet, the company has completed about $200m such transactions for employees at companies including Pinterest and Uber before they went public.
I love brainstorming with Wouter, the founder, especially around the subject of ‘pre wealth management‘ a phrase he coined and I have taken to heart as an important trend in the investment world. Wouter and team are now quickly broadening their product offering around the ‘pre-wealth category’ and there should be some public announcements soon.
Next up…StartStackin which has been exploding in growth with over 500,000 users and over 70 million text messages sent in 2019. You can read about the growth and company here and listen to co-founder Scott Grimes discuss the product and future.
There are a lot of personal finance apps out there. And yet, many people still feel shut out from being able to have a conversation about their finances. Maybe the apps are too heavy, too complicated or just the language is different than how people talk in real life. Scott Grimes addresses all of this with Stackin.
Stackin’s CEO and co-founder built a personal finance app which lets people save and invest and is entirely text messaging-based. So, not only is there not a complicated app people need to learn — there’s no app. He and his team built this for the average american who wants this level of simplicity and guidance around their finances — and it needs to be judgment free. Stackin is well on its way to a million users and has sent over 70 million text messages over the past year.
I love the angle of attack and wedge that the company is focused on entering the consumer banking and investing industries. The ‘BFF’ of your money is genius.
Finally today, since everything is now fintech, Manscaped is the BFF of your balls. Their social marketing campaigns and strategy across the web is fantastic. They recently launched ‘The Lawnmower 3.0’ which I must say works great. The company is just a few years old, but it is the fastest growing company ever in our portfolio. Have a watch of this hysterical marketing video of seniors reading Manscaped reviews.
Have a great Sunday everyone.