Category: Activant Capital

Cardless raises $40M to help more brands launch custom credit cards



Many consumers use their credit cards to rack up rewards to be used toward travel. 

But what if you’re a sports fan, and using your credit card could lead to a virtual conversation with a player on your favorite team? Thanks to San Francisco-based Cardless, that opportunity may be less of a stretch than you think.

The startup, which is out to give brands and tech companies a way to launch custom co-branded credit cards, has raised $40 million in a Series B funding round led by Activant Capital. Other investors include the owners and management of the Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics and existing backers such as Accomplice and Pear VC. The financing brings the two-year-old company’s total raised since its 2019 inception to $50 million. Accomplice and Greycroft co-led its $7 million Series A last June.

Put simply, Cardless aims to help consumer brands launch credit cards “very quickly and easily” by handling the program creation, card underwriting, lending, issuance and customer service for brands. This quarter, the startup launched three digital programs — with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, British soccer team Manchester United and the Miami Marlins, a Major League Baseball team based in Florida.

The company is out to modernize the whole concept of co-branded credit card programs. Of the 200 that exist in the U.S. today, only one is from a company that is less than two decades old, according to Cardless’ co-founder and president Michael Spelfogel.

“There are close to 200 brands (Read more...)

Mortgage is suddenly sexy as SoftBank pumps $500M in Better.com at $6B valuation



Digital mortgage lender Better.com has raised a $500 million round from Japanese investment conglomerate SoftBank that values the company at $6 billion.

The financing is notable for a few reasons. For one, that new $6 billion valuation,  is up 50% from the $4 billion it was valued at last November when it raised $200 million in Series D financing. It’s also up tenfold from its $600 million valuation at the time of its Series C raise in August 2019.

Secondly, it’s further proof that mortgage – a traditionally “unsexy” industry that has long been in need of disruption – is officially hot. For all its controversy, when SoftBank invests, people pay attention.

The COVID-19 pandemic and historically-low mortgage rates fueled acceleration in the online lending space in a way that no one could have anticipated. That, combined with the general fervour in venture funding, means it’s not a big surprise that Better.com has raised $700 million in just a matter of months.

The investment brings Better.com’s total funding raised to over $900 million since its 2014 inception. Other backers include Goldman Sachs, Kleiner Perkins, American Express, Activant Capital and Citi, among others.

According to the Wall Street Journal, SoftBank is buying shares from Better’s existing investors, and agreed to give all of its voting rights to CEO and founder Vishal Garg “in a sign of its eagerness” to invest in the company. 

During a one-on-one interview at Lendit Fintech’s USA 2020 virtual event in October, Garg had told me (Read more...)

Eco raises $26M in a16z-led round to scale its digital cryptocurrency platform



‍Eco, which has built out a digital global cryptocurrency platform, announced Friday that it has raised $26 million in a funding round led by a16z Crypto.

Founded in 2018, the SF-based startup’s platform is designed to be used as a payment tool around the world for daily-use transactions. The company emphasizes that it’s “not a bank, checking account, or credit card.”

“We’re building something better than all of those combined,” it said in a blog post. The company’s mission has also been described as an effort to use cryptocurrency as a way “to marry savings and spending,” according to this CoinList article.

Eco users can earn up to 5% annually on their deposits and get 5% cashback on when transacting with merchants such as Amazon, Uber, and others. Next up: the company says it will give its users the ability to pay bills, pay friends and more “all from the same, single wallet.” That same wallet, it says, rewards people every time they spend or save.

After a “successful” alpha test with millions of dollars deposited, the company’s Eco App is now available to the public.

A slew of other VC firms participated in Eco’s latest financing, including Founders Fund, Activant Capital, Slow Ventures, Coinbase Ventures, Tribe Capital, Valor Capital Group, and more than one hundred other funds and angels.  Expa and Pantera Capital co-led the company’s $8.5 million funding round.

CoinList co-founder Andy Bromberg stepped down from his (Read more...)