Welcome to The Interchange! If you received this in your inbox, thank you for signing up and your vote of confidence. If you’re reading this as a post on our site, sign up here so you can receive it directly in the future. Every week, I’ll take a look at the hottest fintech news of the previous week. This will include everything from funding rounds to trends to an analysis of a particular space to hot takes on a particular company or phenomenon. There’s a lot of fintech news out there and it’s my job to stay on top of it — and make sense of it — so you can stay in the know. — Mary Ann
On September 28, LinkedIn released its Top Startups list, which is its self-described annual ranking of 50 emerging U.S. companies “gaining attention and recruiting top talent.” The professional networking site takes into consideration a variety of criteria based on its own data when coming up with the list: employment growth, engagement with the company and its employees, job interest and ability to attract talent from companies.
Now, we often take these sorts of lists with a grain of salt. In this case, I was admittedly (and naturally) less interested in their overall rankings and more intrigued by which fintechs made the list — and why.
Here’s what I found out: Seven fintech companies ranked in the top 50: Brex (No. 4), Ramp (No. 5), Gravy (No. 14), Esusu (No. 29), GPARENCY (No. 35), Deel (No. 43) and Masterworks (No. 47).
Drilling down, I learned that among the seven fintech startups that made the list, there are 125+ open roles. An astounding 87% of those open roles are for remote positions.
“A majority of fintech startups on this year’s list deal in the realms of building and managing credit for businesses and consumers — credit management is only becoming more important as interest rates rise and the economy slows, positioning these companies to play an even more relevant role in the lives of their users and customers,” LinkedIn business and finance editor at large Devin Banerjee told TechCrunch over email.
LinkedIn went on to offer further insights on each of the companies and some examples of the roles they are looking to fill. The summaries preceding the open roles were drafted by LinkedIn using survey responses from the honoree companies.
Brex is 100% remote. The company is looking for customer-focused skills and asks candidates to tell them about “a time you learned something from a team member that changed your mind or widened your perspective.” Among the positions it is hiring for are Real-Time Analyst and Lifecycle Marketing Manager.
The No. 1 skill Ramp is looking to hire for now is software engineering, as the company’s main hiring priorities are for engineers and product managers, including entry-level and remote roles (the company is hybrid). Ramp doesn’t require college degrees for all hires, and offers lots of “learning opportunities, autonomy with a high level of ownership, and rapid advancement.” Among the roles it is hiring for are Head of Data Science / Credit, Fraud, & Pricing and Partner Marketing & Enablement.
Esusu is looking to hire those with engineering skills, and the company says critical thinking is the hardest skill to hire for. They’re “doubling down on folks we call justice capitalists — people who have a head for business and a heart for the world. These people fundamentally believe that doing good and doing well are by no means mutually exclusive.” Esusu advises candidates to “outreach with intent…It always grabs the attention of the recruiter when you reach out directly and have clearly researched the company and the role.” Among the positions it’s hiring for are Senior Cloud Infrastructure Engineer and Enterprise Account Executive.
GPARENCY is looking to hire for sales, including entry-level roles, and says it is open to no experience — they’ll train new hires in the skills they need, and in company culture. For example, it’s looking for a Sales Executive.
Deel is looking to hire those with sales skills and says that candidates should be prepared to answer the interview question specifically to address this remote-first company: “What would you need to be successful working in a highly diverse, global work environment with colleagues sitting in nearly 80 countries and being fully remote?” From this question, the company looks to learn “how will the candidate handle the challenges of collaborating and communicating within a hyper-growth startup with 1300 team members.” Deel also says employee referrals are the best way a candidate can catch their attention. Among the positions it’s hiring for are Partnership Manager and Senior DevOps Engineer.
Masterworks says it is looking to hire product managers and engineers with startup experience, and asks candidates, “Where do you hope to be in 5 years?” The company says, “Though there is no right answer, we hope to see how driven the individual is, and how their personality comes through when considering their futures. We also like to hire individuals who we, as a company, can grow with.” The company is hybrid. Among the positions it’s hiring for are Principle Product Designer and CRM Specialist.
Three letters we haven’t heard in a long time came up last week: IPO. TripActions is said to have filed confidentially to go public in the second quarter of next year at a $12 billion valuation. Last October, TripActions raised $275 million in a Series F “growth” funding round at a $7.25 billion valuation. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, TripActions was primarily known for merging many aspects of corporate trip booking — flights, hotels and rental cars — with expense tracking. But the Palo Alto–based company was among the startups that was hit very hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the global crisis resulted in its revenue dropping to $0, according to CEO and co-founder Ariel Cohen. But it has since leaned into its Liquid spend management offering, which puts it in direct competition with the likes of Brex and Ramp. Of course, the news had TC+ editor Alex Wilhelm and my Equity co-host super pumped. You can read his take here.
When layoffs occur, we often get the employer’s side of the story — but not always that of the employees. For this article, Christine Hall and I talked extensively with several former Better.com employees. Warning: Many have said it was painful to read the detailed experiences of three former and one current employee. It took us weeks to write, as we wanted to be careful to protect our sources but yet still tell their stories.
From Ivan Mehta: “Block, the company behind Square and Cash App, now supports Apple’s Tap to Pay for iPhone feature for merchants. Existing Square users or new businesses wanting to use Square can now use their iPhones to receive payments while using the fintech company’s financial management software.”
From Manish Singh: Samsung has launched two credit cards in India, entering a crowded category that sees more than 50 companies fiercely compete for consumers’ attention in the world’s second largest internet market. The South Korean giant said it has partnered with the Mumbai-headquartered Axis Bank and global payments processor Visa to launch the cards, which it is calling the Samsung Axis Bank Signature Credit Card. Consumers buying Samsung’s products and services through either of the cards will get 10% cash back “round the year,” the company executives said at an event in New Delhi.
From Romain Dillet: Meet Solvo, a new mobile app that wants to make it easier to invest in cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency-related financial products. The two founders, Ayelen Denovitzer and Shailendra Sason, met while they were working for Revolut, in the crypto team more specifically. Earlier this year, Solvo raised a $3.5 million seed round from Index Ventures with CoinFund and FJ Labs also participating. Since then, the company has put together a small team of 10 people and started working on its iOS app.
From Anita Ramaswamy: Investment app Public.com (Public), a Robinhood competitor that pivoted away from the contentious payment-for-order-flow (PFOF) revenue model, is expanding its offerings in a big way. The three-year-old company purchased Otis earlier this year to allow consumers to buy and trade fractional shares in alternative assets. Today, the company announced that it has integrated Otis’s offerings onto its own app, meaning its 3 million users can construct portfolios composed of both public stocks and alternative assets such as high-end trading cards and other collectibles.”
From The Information: “Divvy Homes, a property tech startup backed by Andreessen Horowitz and Tiger Global Management, laid off about 12% of its staff Tuesday. The cuts affected about 40 people and are a reflection of how younger real estate firms are responding to rising mortgage rates that have battered the home-buying market…Divvy Homes buys homes in the U.S. and rents them to people who don’t have the credit history or savings to buy, but hope to eventually purchase the homes. The firm, valued last year at about $2 billion, has raised over $500 million in equity.” I covered the company’s February 2021 $110 million Series C raise here.
From Insider: “Hopscotch, a B2B payments fintech, aims to be a Venmo-like payment tool for businesses. Its 22-year-old founder was inspired after paying vendors for his apparel brand with paper checks. The company’s new product, Hopscotch Flow, is the first step towards monetizing the platform.” Via email, founder Reed Switzer told me: “Too often, B2B invoicing/bill-pay solutions are self-serving, with fragmented features, and offer few tools to help elevate hard-working modern freelancer/small business owners. We’re meeting a need. Even as small businesses struggled to survive in 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that business applications were up a record-breaking 43.3% over the same period in 2019 — small businesses are thriving and need support. We’re trying to break barriers — I’m a 22-year-old black founder in B2B payments (likely the youngest in the space) and my lead investors are also PoC (Peter Boyce II + Simeon Iheagwam).”
Chase and DoorDash announced plans to launch the “first-ever” DoorDash credit card, with Mastercard as the exclusive payments network for the new card. The companies said that the DoorDash Rewards Mastercard “will allow cardmembers to unlock benefits and earn rewards on purchases both on and off the DoorDash platform.” Instacart recently teamed up with Chase as well, as noted by my colleague Kyle Wiggers, who pointed out that it seems “Chase is leaning heavily into co-branding these days.”
Rho last week announced Prime Treasury, “a tailored treasury management service integrated with the Rho platform.” Via email, a company spokesperson told me: “The Fed is expected to hike interest rates this week, putting more pressure on CFOs and other business leaders to protect their cash reserves from the effects of inflation…Unless you are a Fortune 500 company, you likely don’t have access to a sophisticated treasury management team that can develop and execute a unique investment policy to combat inflation.” The move, according to the company, “bolsters Rho’s support for growth-stage companies and the middle market…As interest rates continue to rise and alternative, risky assets like crypto continue to fall, the case for high-grade assets, including US Treasuries, strengthens.” Read more on the company’s blog post here.
Last week, Secfi launched Secfi Wealth — a fully independent RIA — to provide startup founders and employees with financial planning and investment management. A company spokesperson told me via email: “Wealth Management services at traditional financial institutions usually require $1M + of liquid assets which is not a reality for most startup employees even though they have huge financial decisions to make starting with their equity. Secfi believes that the big firms have this backward as they only advise clients after a major exit event, but when it comes to equity, the reality is that the impact that can be made pre-exit is magnitudes greater than what can be done for someone after an exit. Secfi wants to help startup employees today in the pre-wealth phase so they are better set up for life events and hopefully a life-changing exit down the road.”
From Accounting Today: “Routable, a business payments platform, has added optical character recognition to automatically scan invoices to create payables and process hundreds of invoices at once. Routable says the new capability can save up to three minutes per invoice. For businesses processing 10,000 invoices per month, this can add up to 167 hours per week, saving an equivalent of $168,000 per year.” I covered the company’s $30 million Series B led by the Altman Brothers in April of 2021.
Virtual payment card company Lithic has launched Lithic Send, which CEO Bo Jiang describes in a blog post as “a new suite of products designed for companies that need a faster, more flexible way to build out card disbursement programs.” A spokesperson told me: “Creating a card disbursement program traditionally takes months of development because of integrating with multiple vendors, mapping card transaction lifecycle to a ledger, and creating custom logic. With Lithic Send you can now do this in weeks or even days.” The company, which used to go by the name Privacy.com, raised $43 million in May of 2021, which I covered here.
Fundings and M&A
Seen on TechCrunch
Winner for headline of the week! Why build a fintech any more when you can just raise €20M and white-label it to banks?
The company told me via e-mail: “We’re a few 2nd-time founders who got fed up with how poor the health insurance and pensions were for employees, so we decided to rebuild the whole experience. We’ve integrated into some of Europe’s biggest insurers and pension providers to offer a delightfully quick and straightforward end-to-end experience for employers and employees. The platform removes barriers to access on a global scale, and our goal is to rebuild the rails so platforms can leverage our API.”
Just a note to say that it’s much more fun to write about startups that are hiring than it is to write about those that are laying off. Here’s to more hiring, and fewer layoffs, in Q4! Thanks again for your support in reading, and subscribing to, this newsletter. See you next week! xoxoxo Mary Ann