Welcome back to The Interchange, where we take a look back at the previous week’s top fintech news. Better.com It finally went public last week, and the stock did worse than expected. On the other hand, Affirm saw its shares get a boost on the back of a better-than-expected earnings report. There was also a huge increase, and acquisitions as well. On the other hand, if you want to receive The Interchange straight to your inbox every Sunday, head over here to sign up!
Better.com is finally public
The biggest fintech news of the week centered around the not-so-good, oh-so-bad Better.com coming onto the public market. Or as my friend and colleague Alex Wilhelm puts it, Better.com It was Miserable.com week.
To sum it up, digital mortgage lending site Better.com debuted on August 24th. To no one’s surprise, the stock hasn’t been a huge hit with public investors. Indeed, it was a thunderous bomb. As of Friday, August 25th, the stock closed at just $1.19. Shares of SPAC partner Aurora were trading at $17.45 on Wednesday, before Better.com officially went public. This is a company that two years ago planned to go public with a valuation of $7.7 billion.
Now, we know that Better.com stock isn’t going to do quite as well. But I’m not sure anyone expected the hovering stock price that gave Better.com a market value of just $19.14 million.
I had the opportunity to do so interview Vishal Garg, CEO and co-founder of Better.com, two weeks ago in anticipation of the company’s IPO through SPAC’s merger with Aurora Acquisition Corp. I will tell you that after nearly two years of writing about the company’s multiple (and mostly (failed) layoffs, and all the different ways Garg managed to piss off ex-employees and executives alike, swinging the company from a big profit in 2020 to huge losses) In 2022 and beyond, I expected the interview to be a little awkward. The last time I interviewed Garg was in 2020, when everyone and their brother were refinancing their homes and Better.com was collecting money. In the end, Garg was on his best behavior – He displayed the charm and charisma that undoubtedly helped attract investors such as SoftBank, Activant Capital, Ping An Global Voyager Fund, Ally Financial, Citi, and others who have collectively invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the company.
Among the highlights of the interview are the following:
Garg admitted he was “nervous” about the IPO.
The CEO also said he “had a lot of leadership training” and realized he needed to treat his employees with the same kindness he used to treat customers.
Going public against all odds was about getting $550 million from SoftBank.
Garg has continued to tout the company’s technology (which even the company’s naysayers will admit is pretty good) and hope that the housing market shift and lower mortgage rate will work in its favor in 2024 if both materialize.
On the same day that Better.com went public, the average 30-year mortgage interest rate jumped to 7.23%, its highest level in 22 years, according to Yahoo Finance. With prices so high, Better.com’s attempt to turn around will be even more difficult.
Here’s what Phil Haslett, co-founder and chief strategy officer at EquityZen, said of the company’s choice to move forward with the late SPAC despite all the negative headlines over the past 20 months. Better.com’s senior leadership (and its investors) weren’t surprised that the stock “down” 90%, he wrote by email. de-SPAC was a way to raise $565m. No one else was going to give them $500m. Vishal Garg opined There was one last wedding dress for sale, so he took it. He knew it wouldn’t fit, but he didn’t care. He made it work.”
To hear the Equity podcast team talk more about the company and its bombshell public debut, visit the link below. – Mary Ann
Image credits: Better.com
Emphasis it’s a very good week
Better.com may have had a rough week, but shares of at least one other publicly traded fintech company have fared much better.
Affirm shares traded down nearly 30% to just under $18 on Friday afternoon after the company It released fourth quarter earnings and fiscal year 2023. The company said it exited the year on a profitable basis on an adjusted operating income (AOI) basis and that its revenue rose 22% year-over-year to $446 million. As CNBC reported, Affirm “also gave strong guidance for the first fiscal quarter, forecasting revenue of $430 million to $455 million, versus analyst expectations of $430 million.”
Third Bridge analyst Kevin Kennedy had some thoughts on the results after interviewing a number of fintech executives, telling TechCrunch that “even with generally positive results, it’s hard to ignore Affirm’s continuing operating losses and expanding margins.” loss of more than 11 percent. point over the past year, resulting in a cumulative deficit of $2.6 billion. On the positive side, Kennedy also noted that the debit card + product was “a step in the right direction, and is likely to play a key role on the path to profitability by achieving better monetization of existing users without impacting marginal customer acquisition costs.” He said he was also interested. Particularly with the vision of increasing Affirm accreditation in the travel, equipment and automotive industries. Finally, he said: “Our experts believe that Affirm’s future as an independent company will hinge on the company’s ability to effectively develop and sell a broad range of financial services products, such as the BNPL offerings to major technology players as diverse as PayPal and Apple.” And the Cash (Block) app is becoming increasingly competitive.
In context, Affirm stock is still trading below its 52-week high of $27.26, but more than double its 52-week low of $8.62.
Check out our previous interview with the company’s CTO here. – Mary Ann
The weekly news
Sarah Perez reports on a new method for Starbucks Lovers to pay for their favorite drinks, without a phone. Contactless payment is coming as the coffee giant works to get people through the car faster. Find out how it works.
From Manish Singh Two stories about India’s retail giant Reliance Retail. First, the company’s subsidiary, Jio Financial Services, She appeared publicly for the first time. Second, Reliance tests a voice box payment system that instantly checks and reports that the payment is successful. learn more.
And This week on stocksMary Ann, delved into FinTech and AI in Latin America with Mercedes Bent, Early Stage Team Partner at Lightspeed projects He co-leads the LatAm area at Lightspeed and the Angel Fund. They talked about a number of topics, including how and why Mercedes started investing in Latin America, and why it believes the region is more resilient than others; why we are so early in the hype cycle when it comes to the intersection of AI and fintech; And why is generative AI and fintech not always the best combination?
Other items we read:
Klarna is proud to expand and grow across Europe as smaller companies “fall back” on their commitments. Talking about ClarnaCEO Sebastian Siemiatkovsky posted Attractive topic On X, he details the challenges of “trying to hire and manage someone who does something you have no clue how to do.”
See who’s partner now:
Finance and mergers and acquisitions
As seen on TechCrunch
And in other places
Yahoo acquires social investment platform Commonstock (Disclosure: Yahoo is TechCrunch’s parent company)
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Image credits: Brice Durbin