Upstart Auto Insurer Root Files For IPO

Upstart auto insurance provider Root is the latest heavily funded, venture-backed company to throw its hat into the IPO ring.

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The Columbus, Ohio-based company filed a prospectus with U.S. securities regulators Monday, seeking to raise up to $100 million in an initial public offering on Nasdaq. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are lead underwriters of the offering, which will trade under the ticker symbol ROOT.

Root’s business model relies heavily on weeding out the riskiest drivers from its platform and rewarding those remaining with lower rates than competitors typically offer. Customers download its app, which works with their smartphone sensors to gather and analyze data while they drive.

In recent quarters, the business has seen sharply growing revenues and widening losses. For the first half of 2020, Root had net revenue of $245.4 million along with a net loss of $145.4 million. In the first half of 2019, by contrast, net revenue was $104.1 million, with a net loss of $97 million.

Root is not the only VC-backed insurtech startup with its eyes on public markets. This summer, another heavily funded player, home and renter insurance provider Lemonade, saw shares soar in its market debut. The stock has held up since the IPO, with a recent market cap of over $3 billion. Another Root rival, auto insurance startup Metromile, has also reportedly been considering an IPO.

Today, Root says it is licensed in 36 U.S. states and operates in 30 of them. The company plans to eventually have a presence in all 50 states. Late last year, Root also introduced renters insurance policies, but the vast majority of its revenue continues to come from auto coverage.

Founded in 2015, Root has raised $527.5 million in known venture financing to date, per Crunchbase data. Its largest shareholders, per the company’s S-1 filing, include Drive Capital (26.6 percent), Ribbit Capital (16.5 percent), and Tiger Global (10.3 percent).

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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