Morning Markets: Max Levchin’s payments company and Parker Conrad’s new firm are raising new money. Let’s talk briefly about each.
After a long run of public market coverage thanks to L’affaire Lyft, we’re turning back to our bread and jam by looking at recent funding news from the private sector.
There are two bits of news I want to talk about. First, Affirm is said to have raised $300 million more. And second, that Rippling has $45 million new dollars in its bank account. If you don’t know Rippling, don’t worry. It’s driving news for its new valuation (over a quarter billion), and its founder’s name: Parker Conrad of Zenefits fame. More on that in a second.
Max Levchin’s consumer payment-and-debt startup Affirm has raised another $300 million, according to Axios, which reports that the company’s Series F values it at “a $2.9 billion post-money valuation.” That’s a lot of new money at a high price.
But such a large check is nothing new for Affirm, which had raised $620 million in equity funding, and $100 million in debt capacity since birth. This new $300 million will bring its equity fundraising total to over $900 million, and its combined fundraising total to over $1 billion.
Count this as another win for the PayPal mafia.
What I find somewhat notable is that there’s scant information in the wild about Affirm’s growth. Aside from its ability to raise money (now demonstrated again), I don’t know anything about the firm’s revenue growth, let alone things like its profitability or gross margins. And a quick search this morning turns out effectively nothing.
It’s impressive that a company now worth nearly $3 billion, with around $1 billion in money powering it, has shared or leaked so little about why folks are piling that much capital into its accounts. (If you know, firstname.lastname@example.org.)
But what the firm has seemingly proves is that consumers are open (hungry?) to another payment option somewhere in between a credit card and a long-term installment loan. I would not have guessed that.
I recall a time when Parker Conrad’s name was bad, Zenefits’ misdeeds were legion, and there was much talk about how tech needed to grow up. Now Parker Conrad is back with a new company and a new round, Zenefits may make it, and tech is a flat circle.
Here’s what I know: Conrad’s new company Rippling has raised $45 million, and many folks that I like and trust are tweeting or telling me that the old Zenefits narrative isn’t the whole story. So I’m going to go talk to Rippling either this month or the next and will report back with more.
In the meantime, what does Rippling do? Here are our friends at TechCrunch:
[Conrad spent] 2 years with 40 engineers working in stealth to build integrations with nearly every popular business tool to combine HR, IT, and single-sign on services. The result is that when you hire an employee, Rippling onboards them to all those services in a single click.
That sounds pretty useful. And as usage of the product will expand as client companies grow, Rippling will be able to show nice charts to investors of how once it lands an account, they tend to spend more over time.
Translation: Rippling is going to raise again.
The Wheels On The Bus
Whatever you think about Silicon Valley or tech or 2019 in general, the above notes detail that, unlike in America, in tech there are second acts.
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