FTT Update: Hello to Everyone Except r/WallStreetBets
Hi all, Julie here. Happy Wednesday to everyone except r/WallStreetBets. My husband alerted me that he bought a little bit of AMC, and if he loses whatever play money he put into it, I blame you. Premium subs, watch for a special edition of my newsletter next Tuesday where I'll dive deeper into this trading insanity. And for those that haven't been following along, the TLDR is that a bunch of reddit people are piling into certain stocks in order to crush short sellers that happen to be hedge funds. And it's working.
Also, in case you missed it, we just added a discount to our premium newsletter for students. Ping me on Twitter and I'll hook you up as long as you use your student email :)
Bookkeeping Sucks, Pilot Wants to Help
Pilot, founded by serial entrepreneurs that sold their last startup to Dropbox, announced a $60M round led by Sequoia. Pilot helps startups and small businesses manage their back office (aka: bookkeeping). This stuff is boring AF, let me tell you, so if there is a company that can help Ian and me with this, SIGN US UP. Tens of billions of dollars is spent on bookkeeping and accounting in the US, so the market opportunity is arguably pretty big if Pilot can gain some good traction. It’s hard to explain why bookkeeping and all this business admin stuff is an issue, but once you run a business or co-found a company, you find out really fast that this stuff is hard and burdensome. Ian and I are going to try to co-write a post at some point, so stay tuned.
That was Fast
Stripe led the $102M round that Fast just closed. While the valuation was not disclosed, I’ve heard it was just north of $1B, which is pretty wild for a company that only recently came out of stealth. Index participated in this round as well, along with Susa Ventures, Sugar Capital and Jaren Glover. The payments company’s current product is aimed at making the checkout process take like 2 seconds instead of several minutes in some cases. Essentially, instead of having to plug in your credit card or other payment info, Fast would make it ~1 click. Merchants and customers alike would love this since it would make it easier to buy something, and also make more people go through the whole checkout process rather than abandon their cart. I agree that this is an issue, but I also find that Apple Pay, Shop Pay and a few other products already make this very easy. I haven’t come across Fast’s product in the wild yet, but I wonder what it looks like compared to these other options that I use quite frequently.
More Funding for Challenger Banks
Another challenger bank, another funding round. This time it’s Albert, who has raised $100M in a Series C funding round led by General Atlantic. CapitalG, Alphabet’s independent growth fund, Portag3, and QED joined the round, which brings Albert's total funding to date to $173M.
Since launching in 2016, Albert has signed up more than 5 million users. To try to differentiate itself from the slew of other startups offering savings, checking and mobile banking services, Albert has added financial experts that can help users make better financial decisions. The company said it’s going to use this funding to hire and launch new products, tbd on which ones, but seems like all the challenger banks are racing to do this.
Not Fintech, But You'll Love It
Activist investor Ryan Cohen, who also founded pet store Chewy, made an investment into GameStop last year. He is long. He’s making a lot of money. Ryan had a 9M share stake in the company last year with an average stock price of just over $8. That stake, which was worth around $76M, is now worth more than $1B. To my knowledge, he's not part of the r/WallStreetBets group and seemed to be playing the long game with Gamestop, and I'm not sure he's sold any shares since I believe he's on the board.
**Note, there is a fintech angle on Gamestop and retail trading, and I'll be diving into that in a premium newsletter out soon.
TransferWise First to Test Visa's New Cloud Platform
TransferWise is expanding its debit card program into dozens of new markets by inking a deal with Visa that will let it connect to Visa’s global processing network via the cloud. The new markets will include parts of Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, the UK and the US. Expansions like this would usually require going country by country to deal with localities, regulations, special hardware, etc. But by leveraging Visa, it can streamline a lot of that by tapping into Visa’s global infrastructure. It’s the first in a new program launched by Visa, with Transferwise being the first to try it out. I’ll be interested in seeing who else hops on board for this.
Congrats to Fintech Today community member Rohit Mittal! His company, Stilt, announced a $100M warehouse facility from Silicon Valley Bank for lending to its customers. Out of YC and founded ~5 years ago, Stilt is aimed at helping immigrants in the US get financial services (often a big issue given lack of social security numbers and a credit history). Stilt’s loan application process considers a user’s personal information such as education, employment and visa status, on top of Stilt’s proprietary machine-learning algorithms that draw on demographic data from a wide range of financial and non-financial sources.
Yes, I mentioned Saira from HMBradley on Monday too, but I have to mention her again today because it's her birthday! Please go over to her twitter and wish her well.
As always, here are two fintech jobs we're highlighting today!
Product Designer, Novo: A bank for businesses, Novo is looking for a Product Designer to work on experiences for our users. You will have autonomy, ownership, and impact across its suite of products, brand, and marketing at this seed stage startup. The ideal candidate will have 3 to 5 years of tech/startup or digital product agency experience and thrive working in fast paced environments.
That's all for today, premium subscribers will hear from John Collins tomorrow on what to look out for in fintech regulation now that the election is behind us. Otherwise, free subs, I'll see you again on Friday for an end of the week recap of the news. Talk soon!
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Julie VerHage is the co-founder of Fintech Today, where she focuses on editorial content and brand. Prior to joining, she was Bloomberg’s first fintech reporter, covering Robinhood from before it was a billion dollar company, breaking the news that Plaid was acquiring Quovo, and interviewing executives on Bloomberg TV and at several large conferences.