April 12, 2024

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With Fintech Funding Down 70%, Here’s What 11 Big Startups Are Worth Now

The current estimated value of 11 leading private fintech startups shows declines as high as 79%. But a few have started to recover.

By Jeff Kauflin, Forbes Staff


Back in November 2021, as the market for venture capital funding of fintech companies was peaking, San Francisco Bay Area bill-payment startup Tipalti raised $270 million at an $8.3 billion valuation. Then last summer, shares in the company traded hands privately at a $4 billion value. Today, by one estimate, Tipalti is worth just $3.1 billion, down 63% from its peak, even though it has been growing smartly—to 3,500 mostly U.S.-based business customers now, up from 2,000 at the end of 2021.

Chen Amit, Tipalti’s 58-year-old Israeli cofounder and CEO, considers $3 billion way too low, but he acknowledges that the inflated valuations of 2021 are history. “We just need to accept it. There’s no need to fight it,” Amit says, pointing to other private fintech companies, such as Stripe and Klarna, that have raised money since then in down rounds. He adds: “I will not sell my shares at $3 billion. I doubt any knowledgeable person would.”

The extraordinary boom and bust in venture capital funding for the fintech industry has left a puzzle in its wake: what are these startups really worth today? With VC dollars flowing to the industry plunging from $141 billion in 2021 to $39 billion globally in 2023, according to CB Insights, many startups have scrambled to conserve cash to avoid raising funds at a dramatically reduced valuation. Meanwhile, those further along the growth path have delayed initial public offerings as already-public fintechs are languishing, off about 50% from their peak, despite the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq recently setting new highs.

All that has left a void of information—one now being filled by new platforms like Caplight and Notice that generate valuation estimates based on the secondary-market trades they track through their partnerships with brokers. These estimates may also incorporate public disclosures of markdowns taken by mutual funds holding shares in private companies, the prices of comparable publicly traded stocks and other data.

Soon after Tipalti’s 2021 fundraise, stocks started tanking and the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates. Amit made aggressive moves to prepare the company for leaner times, laying off 11% of employees. “We knew we had fat in the organization,” he says. While the company maintains sizable staff in Israel, San Francisco and Vancouver, when it started hiring again, it emphasized lower-cost locations like Tbilisi, Georgia. And Tipalti continued to grow–it now processes about $5 billion in monthly payments, up from $3 billion at the time of its 2021 fundraise. (The company says it retains 99% of its customers each year.)

So what’s Tipalti worth now? In the summer of 2023, a Tipalti shareholder sold about $20 million worth of stock on the secondary market at a $4 billion valuation, according to Oren Zeev, a venture capitalist and Tipalti cofounder. In the fourth quarter of 2023, Capital Group, one of the largest mutual fund companies in the world, marked its shares at $3.7 billion.

Now Caplight, a San Francisco startup that both tracks secondary-market trades of private tech companies and provides a venue to trade shares, estimates Tipalti’s value at just $3.1 billion–a number that also takes account of the stock slump of several of Tipalti’s competitors including publicly traded Bill, which is off 80% since its late 2021 peak.

Caplight shared with Forbes its valuations for a long list of fintechs it tracks. The chart below shows its estimates, as of March 8, for 11 of them–all sizable startups where private trades and other information available within the past year provide a foundation for those valuations. Of course, these are still just estimates. As befits a burst bubble, some of the declines in value from their fundraising peak valuation are dramatic–an estimated 79% for Klarna and 74% for Chime. Many of the companies, which were all given a chance by Forbes to comment on these values, pushed back, and you can see their responses in the company write-ups at the bottom of this story.


THE BIG FALL

The 11 fintechs below, according to estimates from Caplight as of March 8, are now worth 23% to 79% below their peak fundraising valuations.


Keep in mind, as the Tipalti example demonstrates, a falling valuation doesn’t necessarily mean a business is doing poorly.

Forbes Fintech 50 member Chime is still the largest digital bank in America. It famously raised funding at $25 billion in 2021 and had a flurry of secondary-market activity a year ago, valuing the company at around $8 billion. Still, its value has fallen even further to $6.5 billion as of March 8, for a total decline of 74%, according to Caplight’s estimate.

Plaid, on the Fintech 50 for nine straight years, helps connect fintech apps to consumers’ bank accounts and raised funding three years ago at a $13.4 billion valuation. As its fintech customers struggled, Plaid’s 2023 revenue grew just 10% to between $300 million and $400 million, according to people familiar with its business. Though San Francisco-based Plaid only permits a small number of secondary-market trades, Caplight estimates its valuation at $4.2 billion, a 69% decline, largely based on bids and offers for secondary shares that Caplight has tracked. “Estimating a valuation of any private company based on secondary-market data is misleading. We decline to comment on further speculation,” a Plaid spokesperson told us, while also declining to comment on its 2023 financial results.

Valuing companies based on secondary-market data has its flaws and an abundance of critics. Companies’ boards need to approve the transactions, and they’re usually small–often ranging from $500,000 to $20 million–making them less representative of the total business’ value. The sellers may include employees who want to cash out to buy a house, start their own business or pay the bills after a layoff and who may lack access to a company’s financial results. Sellers have also included institutional holders and prominent venture capital funds–though VCs have reportedly started buying secondary shares more aggressively over the past year, seeing it as a chance to bolster their holdings on the cheap.

Another knock: The values swing dramatically—and can be high or low–depending on where an industry is in the fundraising cycle. Jim Feuille, a venture capitalist at Crosslink Capital and Chime investor, says, “In a bull market, secondary-market values will always be higher than the true value. In a bear market, secondary markets strongly undervalue companies.” Other VCs suggested that on average, secondary shares sell at a 30% discount to where they would trade if the deal were a large primary funding round.

But with all their limitations, secondaries comprise real markets where buyers and sellers agree on prices. Caplight CEO Javier Avalos estimates that brokers facilitate between $5 billion and $7.5 billion of secondary-market transactions each year, and Caplight alone tracked about $1 billion in 2023. Hans Swildens, the founder and CEO of VC firm Industry Ventures, one of the biggest players in the secondary market with $7 billion in assets under management, says platforms like Caplight are good for investors. “There’s now more transparency than there ever was,” he says.

Notably, after more than two years of declines, some fintech valuations are starting to tick back up, including those for big names like Stripe, Klarna and credit card startup Ramp. Swildens says the market “feels like it has bottomed,” though it remains tough to call until we start seeing more fundraises or exits from the largest fintechs.

Here’s more background on each of the 11, including each company’s response, if any, to Caplight’s handiwork.


Stripe

The San Francisco-based payments giant helps millions of companies accept credit and debit cards for ecommerce, and it raised funding at a stunning $95 billion valuation in March 2021. As fintech hype climbed to a peak that fall, its value hit $195 billion in secondary-market transactions, according to Caplight’s Avalos. In a new primary funding round completed last March, its valuation tumbled to $50 billion but has been climbing back since. The company recently let all former and current Stripe employees sell their shares at a $65 billion valuation in a tender offer. Caplight now estimates Stripe at $71.7 billion, a 10% premium over the tender offer. “In the secondary market for Stripe right now, there is more demand than supply,” Avalos explains. A Stripe spokesperson declined to comment on Caplight’s valuation.


Klarna

The buy-now, pay-later business had a stunning 85% fall from a $45.6 billion valuation in mid-2021 to $6.7 billion in mid-2022. Last year, Stockholm-based Klarna’s revenue grew 22% to more than $2 billion, while losses shrunk 76% to $252 million. BlackRock recently valued its Klarna shares at $8 billion, and over the past six months, Klarna’s private shares have traded up, hovering today at $9.5 billion, according to Caplight. The company is now reportedly considering trying to go public at $20 billion. A Klarna spokesperson declined to comment on its IPO plans or Caplight’s estimate.


Revolut

The London-based digital bank, which provides bank accounts to tens of millions of registered users in the U.K., Ireland, Spain, France and other countries, induced whiplash when it raised funding in mid-2021 at a rich $33 billion valuation, or about 42 times its 2021 revenue of $786 million. Now Caplight estimates Revolut’s market value at $15.6 billion, less than half its peak. “We do not engage in speculation on our valuation,” a Revolut spokesperson told us. “Since our last funding round, in which we were valued at $33 billion, Revolut’s business has continued to perform strongly in all markets across the globe.”


Chime

Chime became one of the most highly valued private fintech companies in the summer of 2021 when it raised funding at $25 billion. Its revenues grew about 20% in 2022 and 30% in 2023, reaching $1.3 billion last year, according to a person familiar with its business, though it’s still not profitable. Investors have become allergic to consumer-facing startups in the downturn, as high interest rates and a dry funding market mean companies can’t spend nearly as much on marketing to drive growth. A year ago, shares of San Francisco-based Chime traded actively on the secondary market at a roughly $8 billion valuation, according to Caplight. Its estimated value has fallen further since then to $6.5 billion.

Of all the companies on this list, Chime is the one with the least price consensus. Capital Group recently marked the value of its Chime shares at $5.5 billion, while asset manager Alger pegged them at $13.6 billion. One large Chime investor says he pinned his shares at $20 billion at the end of last year. Yet another Chime backer thinks the people bidding for Chime shares at $6.5 billion are current shareholders who are optimistic about the neobank and trying to augment their stake at discounted prices. A Chime representative declined to comment.


Plaid

Plaid’s software connects fintech apps to consumers’ bank accounts and helps customers with fraud prevention. After the Department of Justice quashed Visa’s planned $5 billion acquisition of Plaid in late 2020 on the basis that it would stifle competition in the payments industry, the startup rode the wave of fast-growing fintech and crypto transactions, hitting a valuation of $13.4 billion in April 2021. Growth has slowed as the fintech industry has faltered, with Plaid’s revenue increasing by about 10% in 2023, according to people familiar with its business. While Plaid often restricts secondary-market transactions of its stock, Caplight estimates its valuation at $4.2 billion. A Plaid spokesperson declined to comment directly on that number but said using secondary-market data to estimate valuations is misleading.


Brex

Like many well-funded fintechs, seven-year-old corporate card startup Brex has built a fast-growing business. Yet the San Francisco-based company is further away from profitability than many expected, with a recent The Information article reporting that it was still burning $17 million a month in the fourth quarter of 2023. Brex recently said that it has four years of cash runway and that it aims to become cash-flow positive by the end of 2025. The startup last raised funding at a $12.3 billion valuation in early 2022, and Caplight estimates its value today at $4.0 billion, a 67% decline. A Brex spokesperson declined to comment.


Chainalysis

The blockchain forensics firm uses on-chain data to trace crypto transactions, identifying scams, hacks, fraud and illicit activity, and it raised funding at an $8.6 billion valuation in April 2022. But the fall of FTX and crypto bear market that followed pulled down valuations for nearly the entire category of crypto startups, which has yet to recover despite bitcoin’s recent comeback. New York-based Chainalysis grew its customer base from 200 public sector organizations at the end of 2022 to 300 a year later, but today, Caplight estimates its market value at $2.6 billion. A Chainalysis representative declined to comment.


Tipalti

Like publicly traded fintech Bill, Tipalti helps businesses pay their bills online and manage expenses. It raised funding at an $8.3 billion valuation in November 2021 and grew transaction volume 40% to 50% per year over the following two years. Now Tipalti’s estimated valuation has fallen to $3.1 billion based on secondary-market trades and the stock performance of its publicly traded competitors, according to Caplight. “I will not sell my shares for $3 billion. I doubt any knowledgeable person would,” says cofounder and CEO Chen Amit. (See the top of this article for additional details on Tipalti.)


Ramp

The five-year-old New York startup helps companies issue corporate cards and manage employee expenses and payments. It hit an $8.1 billion valuation in April 2022, and despite growing its customer base by 80% in 2023 to 25,000 businesses, raised funds in a down round last summer at $5.8 billion. Ramp is one of the few companies on our list that, since mid-2023, has seen growing demand for its shares. Caplight today values it at $6.2 billion. The company declined to comment.


Animoca Brands

The 10-year-old blockchain gaming startup, based in Hong Kong, made big bets on NFTs during the bull market, reaching a $5.9 billion valuation in mid-2022. But as interest in crypto waned over the following year, Animoca’s value fell on the secondary market, and it’s now hovering at $1.9 billion, according to Caplight. London-based investor and Animoca shareholder Manny Stotz says he has increased his stake, which now totals more than 10% of Animoca, by buying secondaries at valuations as low as $1 billion from distressed sellers.

Animoca executive chairman Yat Siu declined to comment on Caplight’s estimate but said that Animoca raised $12 million in December 2023 in a “Simple Agreement for Future Equity” (SAFE) deal, where investors will receive both equity in Animoca valued at roughly $5.8 billion and Moca tokens that will be released by the company. The tokens are the real appeal–Stotz says it’s “the most anticipated blockchain gaming token launch of this year,” and he expects a “significant return” between the cost he’s paying for the digital assets and the price they’ll fetch when they launch (likely in the second quarter of this year, he says).


Addepar

Wealth management software startup Addepar helps investment advisors track clients’ portfolios and has continued growing assets on its platform by 15% to 25% over the past two years, reaching $5 trillion in total assets monitored in 2023. The Mountain View, California, based Fintech 50 member is now worth roughly $1.3 billion, Caplight estimates. That’s down 40% from its December 2021 fundraise where it reached $2.2 billion. An Addepar spokesperson didn’t respond to our requests for comment.

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