Robo 1.0 success Personal Capital was acquired for nearly $1 billion by Empower, a major retirement savings manager. Softbank-backed insurtech darling Lemonade IPOed at less than $2 billion, in a successful fundraise and listing, and has since seen its market cap rise to over $4 billion. The IPO is a landmark for an insurtech industry in desperate need of successes. And PayPal announces the impending launch of crypto trading to its 325 million users. The move isn’t overly interesting in its own right, but the implications for the crypto space are worth exploring.
This week, we put on the Goldman hat and go shopping for companies. We buy a little bit of Folio and sell some Motif. We look at Personal Capital and the $1 billion it wants for its $12 billion of assets. We examine the private markets with Addepar / iCapital and SharesPost / Forge, and then move over to the banking sector. Should we buy Wells Fargo, as rumored, or some digital wallet apps? Read on for how to acquire a best-in-class Fintech.
This week, we look at Betterment launching a bank account and payments feature. They are not the first, but they could be the best! Still, it feels like the world has moved on. Barriers to entry around digital finance have collapsed, and shifted industry goal posts. Hundreds of companies are integrating API-based solutions that connect to banking and investment entities. Amazon, Google, and Apple are there already. And let's not forget the incredible pressure from the COVID recession: 20MM+ unemployed, $100 billion decrease in global remittances, 1 in 8 banks being unprofitable. Is it time for incremental improvement, or a sea change?
This week, I pause to reflect on the sales of (1) AdvisorEngine to Franklin Templeton and (2) the technology of Motif Investing to Schwab. Is all enterprise wealth tech destined to be acquired by financial incumbents? Has the roboadvisor innovation vector run dry? Not at all, I think. If anything, we are just getting started. Decentralized finance innovators like Zapper, Balancer, TokenSets, and PieDAO are re-imagining what wealth management looks like on Ethereum infrastructure. Their speed of iteration and deployment is both faster and cheaper, and I am more excited for the future of digital investing than ever before.