The private and public markets appear to be on different pages when it comes to what a fintech company ought to be worth.
Over the past few months, most recently public, venture-backed fintech companies have seen their market capitalizations slashed. Many are currently trading well below their initial offer price, including prominent names such as SoFi, Marqeta and Robinhood.
On the private market side, however, valuations don’t fluctuate with the daily ups and downs of the market. Values are set with a new funding round—meaning many were established when public markets were far more enthused about fintech. Two of the most valuable—Stripe and Klarna—have post-money valuations of $95 billion and $46 billion, respectively.
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Now, it’s tough to say what these most heavily valued unicorns would fetch were they to venture onto public markets. The IPO window has been pretty well shut in 2022, and we haven’t seen any well-known fintechs file to go public in months.
Looking at existing comps, however, it seems fair to guess that going public now would not generate a boast-worthy return for late-stage investors. That’s because many now-public fintechs are trading pretty close to their pre-IPO valuations, and some are a bit lower. This includes:
- Robinhood, the zero-fee stock and crypto trading platform, has a current market cap around $11 billion. That’s actually a bit lower than the $11.7 billion valuation it cinched in private funding prior to its July IPO. It’s far below peak valuations the company fetched in peak secondary markets, which reportedly went as high as $55 billion.
- SoFi, the online lender, has a current market cap around $7 billion, just a bit above the $5.7 billion valuation it reportedly fetched in private markets prior to going public last year via a SPAC merger.
- Bakkt, a provider of technology for enterprises to integrate digital assets into transactions, commands a market cap of $300 million, a fraction of what it raised in venture and PIPE financing prior to going public via a SPAC merger last fall.
The vast majority of venture-backed fintechs to go public on U.S. exchanges last year are trading below their offer prices. We highlight some of the more heavily funded ones in this category below:
Does this mean we can expect valuation haircuts among the current crop of highly valued fintech unicorns? In addition to Stripe and Klarna, this group includes mobile bank Chime (last private valuation $25 billion), developer financial tools provider Plaid ($13 billion), and business charge card and financial services provider Brex ($12 billion).
It’s difficult to do a reset in times of high valuation volatility, which certainly describes the present moment. For now, it looks like private valuations aren’t exactly out of step with public ones—they just don’t look like they’ll return a big multiple.
Meanwhile, smaller resets look more likely. One of the most recent came from mobile savings and investing app Acorns, which closed on $300 million in a Series F round this month. The fundraise—which comes nearly two months after Acorns scrapped plans for a public offering via SPAC—reportedly sets a valuation of $1.9 billion. The SPAC deal, which Acorns announced last May and included a PIPE component, would reportedly have valued the company at roughly $2.2 billion.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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