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Tech’s public market debut was



Welcome back to The Interchange, where we take a look at the hottest fintech news of the previous week. finally went public last week, and the stock’s performance was worse than expected. Affirm, on the other hand, saw its shares get a boost on the back of a better-than-expected earnings report. There was also a mega-raise, and an acquisition too. On another note, if you want to receive The Interchange directly in your inbox every Sunday, head here to sign up! finally went public

The biggest fintech news of the week centered around’s no good, very bad public market debut. Or as my friend and colleague Alex Wilhelm described it, had a week.

To sum it up, digital mortgage lender made its public debut on August 24. To no one’s surprise, the stock wasn’t exactly a hit with public investors. In fact, it was a resounding bomb. As of Friday, August 25, the stock had closed a mere $1.19. Shares of SPAC partner, Aurora, were trading at $17.45 on Wednesday, before officially went public. This is a company that two years ago had planned to go public at a $7.7 billion valuation.

Now, we knew’s stock wouldn’t exactly perform well. But I’m not sure anyone expected it to be hovering at a share price that gave a market cap of just $19.14 million.

I had the opportunity to interview Vishal Garg, CEO and co-founder, a couple weeks ago in anticipation of the company’s going public via a SPAC merger with Aurora Acquisition Corp. I will tell you that after nearly two years of writing about the company’s multiple (and mostly botched) layoffs, all the various ways that Garg has managed to piss off former employees and execs alike, and the company’s swing from a big profit in 2020 to heavy losses in 2022 and beyond, I expected the interview to be a little awkward. The last time I had interviewed Garg was in 2020, when everyone and their brother was refinancing their homes and was raking in the cash. In the end, Garg was on his best behavior — exhibiting the charm and charisma that no doubt managed to help win over investors such as SoftBank, Activant Capital, Ping An Global Voyager Fund, Ally Financial and Citi, and others who collectively invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the company.

Some highlights of the interview included the following:

  • Garg admitted he “had jitters” about the IPO.
  • The executive also said he “had a lot of leadership training” and realized that he needed to treat his employees with the same kindness he was treating customers.
  • Going public despite all of the company’s challenges was all about getting $550 million from SoftBank.
  • Garg continued to tout the company’s technology (which even company naysayers will acknowledge is pretty darn good) and the hope that a housing market turnaround and mortgage rate decrease could work in its favor in 2024 should they both materialize.

On that note, on the same day that went public, the average 30-year mortgage rate jumped to 7.23%, marking a 22-year high, according to Yahoo Finance. With rates this high,’s attempt to turn its business around will be even more challenging.

Phil Haslett, co-founder and chief strategy officer of EquityZen, had this to say about the company’s choosing to move forward with its delayed SPAC despite all the negative headlines over the past 20 months. Via email, he wrote: “Senior leadership at (and its investors) are not surprised the stock is ‘down’ 90%. The de-SPAC was a way to raise $565M. Nobody else was going to give them $500 million. Vishal Garg saw that there was one last wedding dress for sale, and he took it. He knew it wouldn’t fit right, but he didn’t care. He got it done.”

To hear the Equity podcast team riff more about the company and its bomb of a public debut, check out the below link. — Mary Ann goes public

Image Credits:

Affirm’s very good week may have had a rough week, but at least one other publicly traded fintech company’s stock fared far better.

Shares of Affirm’s stock were trading up nearly 30% to just under $18 on Friday afternoon after the company released its fourth-quarter and fiscal year 2023 earnings. The company said it was exiting the year with achieving profitability on an adjusted operating income (AOI) basis and that its revenue was up 22% year-over-year to $446 million. And, as reported by CNBC, Affirm “also gave strong guidance for the fiscal first quarter, projecting $430 million to $455 million in revenue, versus analyst expectations of $430 million.”

Third Bridge analyst Kevin Kennedy had a few thoughts on the results after interviewing a number of execs in the fintech space, telling TechCrunch that “even with generally positive results, it is hard to ignore Affirm’s continued operating losses and loss margins expanded more than 11 percentage points over the past year, resulting in a $2.6 billion accumulated deficit.” On the plus side, Kennedy also noted that the Debit+ card product was “a step in the right direction, and will likely play a key role in the path to profitability by driving better monetization of existing users without the drag of marginal customer acquisition costs.” He said he was also particularly interested to see Affirm’s increased adoption in travel, equipment and auto industries. Lastly, he said: “Our experts believe Affirm’s future as a standalone business will be contingent on the company’s ability to develop and effectively cross-sell a wider spectrum of financial services products, as the BNPL offerings of major diversified tech players like PayPal, Apple and Cash App (Block) are becoming increasingly competitive.”

For context, Affirm’s stock is still trading lower than its 52-week-high of $27.26, but it’s more than double its 52-week-low of $8.62.

Check out our previous interview with the company’s CTO here. — Mary Ann

Weekly news

Sarah Perez reports on a new way for Starbucks lovers to pay for their favorite beverages, sans phone. The contactless checkout method comes as the coffee giant works to move people through the drive-through quicker. Find out how it works.

From Manish Singh are two stories on India retail giant Reliance Retail. First up, the company’s spinoff unit, Jio Financial Services, made its public debut. Second, Reliance is testing a sound box payment system that instantly validates and announces when a payment was successful. Learn more.

And this week on Equity, Mary Ann dug into Latin America’s fintech and AI scene with Mercedes Bent, partner on the early-stage team at Lightspeed Ventures and co-lead of Lightspeed’s LatAm region and angel fund. They spoke on a number of topics, including how and why Mercedes started investing in Latin America, and why she thinks the region is more resilient than others; why we’re early in the hype cycle when it comes to the intersection of AI and fintech; and why generative AI and fintech aren’t always the best combination.

Other items we are reading:

Klarna boasts expansion and growth across Europe as smaller firms ‘dial back’ commitments. Speaking of Klarna, CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski posted an engaging thread on X, detailing the challenges of “trying to hire and manage somebody that does something that you have no clue how to do.”

How fintech company Marqeta is using AI to help consumers

Hadley launches mobile app to increase access to savings plans

Look who’s partnering now:

OZ Câmbio partners with Nium to improve Brazilian SME market and encourage international expansion

Treasury Prime partners with Liberty Bank

Cross River Bank and Current launch credit-building product

Engagement banking fintech Backbase partners with SavvyMoney

Fundings and M&A

As seen on TechCrunch

Fintech startup Ramp raises $300M at a 28% lower valuation of $5.8B 

Moniepoint cleared to acquire Kenyan fintech Kopo Kopo

This venture-backed startup has quietly bought more than 80 mom-and-pop shops

And elsewhere

Yahoo acquires social investing platform Commonstock (Disclosure: Yahoo is TechCrunch’s parent company)

LemFi raises $33M Series A to ease remittance for immigrants

Koverly raises $7.6M for B2B BNPL

Why Ventura Capital and Peter Thiel are backing this Silicon Valley RIA

Discover the Fintech Stage at Disrupt 2023

Check out the Fintech Stage at TechCrunch Disrupt 2023, taking place in San Francisco on September 19–21, where we cover web3, banking, and more. Last-minute passes are still available. Save 15% with code INTERCHANGE. Register now!

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

Disclaimer – This is just shared content from above mentioned source for knowledge sharing.


Procurement is painful, so Pivot wants to simplify it



Earlier this year, a big French tech company started requiring an email to the CEO for every purchase above €1,000. That’s because they didn’t have the right tool to manage procurement.

Meet Pivot, a new French startup that wants to overhaul spend management solutions. Pivot wants to work with young companies that are growing fast and feel like they need a procurement solution. Instead of picking a legacy business spend management system from an ERP vendor, Pivot wants to be the first (and last) procurement system for these companies.

At the helm of the startup, you will find three experienced co-founders. Romain Libeau was one of the first employees at Swile and more recently acted as the Chief Product Officer for the French unicorn. Marc-Antoine Lacroix has spent several years working for Qonto as the Chief Technology Officer and then Chief Product Officer. Estelle Giuly has been a workflow engineers for several enterprise companies and for

“I worked a lot on operations at Swile, and especially on all the internal tools. I actually saw a sequencing where first we tried to get as many customers as possible, so first we focused on all the tools for our go-to-market strategy and sales — basically Salesforce. Then, you have a lot of customers, and you want to keep them happy. So we structured our customer service, our customer success team,” Romain Libeau told me.

“And then you get to the last brick, which is how well you manage all your financial flows,” he added. And that’s where Pivot comes in.

When companies hire a head of procurement, that person usually starts by listing all the requirements and issues a call for tenders. Usually, they get to choose between Oracle NetSuite’s procurement component or maybe Coupa. It then takes several months to integrate the product in the company and procurement teams feel like they are only using 10% of the feature set.

Pivot isn’t the only startup trying to improve procurement. In the U.S., Zip and Levelpath have both raised tens of millions of dollars. “There are some regional features, European features when it comes to compliance and the payment ecosystem,” Libeau said.

But the fact that some American startups are thriving also proves that there is a real market opportunity. That’s why Pivot has already raised a $5.3 million pre-seed round (€5 million) from several VC firms (Visionaries, Emblem, Cocoa, Anamcara and Financière Saint James) as well as entrepreneurs and investors such as Loïc Soubeyrand (founder of Swile), Steve Anavi (co-founder of Qonto), Hanno Renner (co-founder of Personio), Oliver Samwer (co-founder of Rocket Internet), Pierre Laprée, Alexis Hartmann and Alexandre Berriche.

And things have been advancing at a very rapid pace. After this funding round in April, the company started developing the product over the summer and launched it in September with a first client — Voodoo.

“We’re rolling out gradually, because, as I always tell our team, more haste, less speed. But we’re going to end the year with around ten customers. So we’ve got the deals, but we don’t want to rush into anything,” Libeau said.

A PO workflow for humans

If you work for a big company and you often fill out purchase orders, you know that it’s a painful process. There are too many fields, you’re not sure what you’re supposed to write in each field and you would rather find a workaround to avoid purchase orders.

Pivot is well aware of that and has designed a tool that makes the PO workflow less painful. Admins can set up workflows from Pivot’s interface directly — no coding skills required. For instance, a very large purchase with a software vendor might trigger a security review, an IT review, a legal review, etc. That’s why Pivot is betting on third-party integrations and an interface that works for everyone.

Pivot integrates directly with your existing tech stack. It fetches the company’s org chart for the approval workflow from the HR system, it retrieves budgets from Pigment, Anaplan, etc. It then communicates with your communication tools, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams and Jira.

And, of course, Pivot integrates with ERP software (NetSuite, SAP…) so that vendors, cost centers, compliance rules and more are instantly propagated once a purchase order is validated.

Too many companies waste time in approvals and endless workflows. Pivot wants to add a layer of spend management without slowing down business teams. And the timing seems right as many companies are reviewing how they spend money.

Image Credits: Pivot

Disclaimer – This is just shared content from above mentioned source for knowledge sharing.

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Why we’re seeing so many seed-stage deals in fintech



Welcome back to The Interchange, where we take a look at the hottest fintech news of the previous week. If you want to receive The Interchange directly in your inbox every Sunday, head here to sign up! It was a relatively quiet week in fintech startup land, so we took the time to scrutinize where we’re seeing the most funding deals.

Seed deals everywhere

Across the board in all industries, except perhaps AI, we’ve seen a big drop in later-stage funding deals and no shortage of seed-stage rounds.

When it comes to fintech, I can tell you at least anecdotally that the vast majority of pitches that hit my inbox are for seed rounds. It is very rare these days to get pitched for Series B or later, or even for Series A rounds.

Venture banker Samir Kaji, co-founder and CEO of Allocate, points out that the private markets often take their cues from the public markets and as such, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing far fewer later-stage deals and a plethora of seed rounds. The Fintech Index — which tracks the performance of emerging, publicly traded financial technology companies — was down a staggering 72% in 2022, according to F-Prime Capital’s State of Fintech 2022 report.

“Seed is typically the least affected because those companies are just too early to really feel like you have to worry about where the public markets are,” he told me in a phone interview last week. “We’re so far divorced from the time period where these companies are going to be large enough where the public market sentiment is going to really matter.”

Allocate, which recently just closed on $10 million in capital, is currently an investor in about 60 funds. But Kaji is seeing the tide beginning to turn.

“The investment pace in 2022 was just so slow, and the beginning of 2023 was incredibly slow as well, but we’re starting to see things pick up as people are now starting to see that the bid ask on deals at the Series A and later are starting to narrow,” Kaji added. “And I think entrepreneurs have started to capitulate to this new environment. This always is the case — it’s like an 18- to 24-month lag in the public markets. So I would expect much more later-stage activity again in the next 18 to 24 months.”

I asked our friends at PitchBook what they’re seeing, and unsurprisingly, in the second quarter, there were more seed deals forged in the retail fintech space (135) compared to any other stage. When it came to the enterprise fintech space, early-stage deals accounted for most of the deal activity (239) with seed-stage coming in a close second (221), according to PitchBook.

Will we start seeing more later-stage deals in 2024? I sure hope so. Will we see any fintechs actually go public? That’s probably less likely. But you can be sure we’ll be on the lookout.

Slope continues its climb

It’s always great to see startups rise through the ranks, especially at a time when fintech hasn’t been doing so well. One of the companies I have had the pleasure of following is Slope. The company, founded by Lawrence Murata and Alice Deng, developed a business-to-business payments platform for enterprise companies.

When covering the company’s initial $8 million seed round in 2021, I learned that Slope’s origins came from Murata watching his wholesaler family struggle with an easier way to manage payments. He and Deng built the company so that moving to a digital order-to-cash workflow was seamless.

Last year, Slope raised another $24 million in Series A funding, and this week banked $30 million in a venture round led by Union Square Ventures, which co-led the Series A. It also included participation from OpenAI’s Sam Altman and a list of other heavy VC hitters. Read more. — Christine

co-founders Lawrence Lin Murata and Alice Deng, B2B payments

Slope co-founders Lawrence Lin Murata and Alice Deng. Image Credits: Slope

Weekly News

TechCrunch Opinion: Fintech actually has a value system: Here’s how we can reclaim it

Introducing the a16z Global Payments Hub

Other items we are reading:

Apple is ordered to face Apple Pay antitrust lawsuit

Greenlight celebrates launch of web-based financial literacy library

Funding and M&A

As seen on TechCrunch

Pan-African contrarian investor P1 Ventures reaches $25M first close for its second fund

QED and Partech back South African payment orchestration platform Revio in $5.2M seed

Crediverso takes on legal after $3.5M capital infusion

Series, which aims to replace ERP systems, lands $25M

Seen elsewhere

Luge Capital: $71M first close of second fund completed

Colektia completes purchase of non-performing loans for $72M

Mexico’s albo receives $40m in Series C funds, striving for neobank profitability

Grow Credit Inc., a top 30 fintech app, secures $10m funding with USAA as lead investor in Series A round

StretchDollar raises $1.6M in pre-seed funding

WealthTech Vega exits stealth with over $8M funding

Farther closes Series B funding round to gain $131M valuation — This new round comes a little over a year after the wealth tech firm raised a Series A on a $50 million valuation. Check out TechCrunch’s earlier coverage of Farther.

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

Disclaimer – This is just shared content from above mentioned source for knowledge sharing.

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How to raise a Series A in today’s market



If you’re an early-stage founder, the crazy days of 2021 are a distant memory. Money is tight, and the process of getting more is as unsettled as ever.

The past few tumultuous years have tossed out the milestones that defined previous Series A benchmarks. But that doesn’t mean the game is lost. At this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt, three investors shared their perspectives on what’s changed, what’s working today, and what advice they’re giving founders who are looking to raise a Series A.

“As companies mature to seed and Series A, a year and a half ago, if you were at a million or even approaching a million in revenue, a Series A would come together in a snap. That has changed really quickly,” Maren Bannon, co-founder and managing partner at January Ventures, told the audience. “Now it’s probably more like 2 [million] to 3 million in revenue where those rounds come together in a snap.”

For founders, the moving goalposts can be incredibly frustrating — especially since the reasons for it are beyond their control. After a remarkable 13-year bull run, uncertainty crept into the market last year, dampening investor appetite for risk. Rising interest rates compounded the problem.

As a result, Series A investors have pulled back dramatically. “What we’ve noticed in the statistics is that the Series A deployment is down 60% over the last year and a half. The amount deployed per Series A is down 25% from $10 million to $7.5 million. And the number of deals getting done is much fewer,” said James Currier, general partner at NFX.

“The bulk of seed stage companies were [successfully] raising off of story, not traction,” Loren Straub, general partner at Bowery Capital, said of market conditions two years ago. “I think there’s been a real shift in focus towards traction, momentum, legitimate product-market fit.”

“A lot of the Series A investors are understandably looking for a higher bar,” she added.

A market crowded with venture capitalists hasn’t helped, either, Currier said. Back in the ’90s, there were about 150 general partners in the U.S., he said. Today, there are more than 31,000 listed on Signal, a network of investors his firm runs.

Disclaimer – This is just shared content from above mentioned source for knowledge sharing.

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