Category: Max Levchin

Early Affirm employees raise $70M for SentiLink, an identity verification startup



SentiLink, an identity verification technology startup, has raised $70 million in a Series B funding round led by Craft Ventures.

Felicis Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and NYCA also participated in the financing, which brings the company’s total raised to $85 million since its 2017 inception. The company declined to reveal at what valuation the money was raised, saying only it was “at a very high multiple” of its 2019 $15 million Series A led by a16z.

Naftali Harris and Max Blumenfeld founded SentiLink in mid-2017 after their experience working as data scientists at Affirm, where they built out the company’s risk function. At one point during their tenure at the installment loan provider, they came across a “peculiar” fraud case, where 12 identities applied for loans using the same name and date of birth but 12 different Social Security numbers. 

The pair was surprised to discover that all 12 of the identities had real credit reports with 750+ credit scores despite not being real people. It was then they realized how big a problem identity verification was and how poorly it was done, and founded SentiLink with Affirm CEO and founder Max Levchin’s blessing and investment.

San Francisco-based SentiLink aims to help banks, lenders and financial institutions detect fraud at the point of application through a real-time API. Specifically, those APIs detect fake and stolen identities for new account applications. For example, before a bank issues a new credit card, it will send the application information to SentiLink. SentiLink’s (Read more...)

The Sad Truth of Buy Now Pay Later Services


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


Square, the other company, started by Jack Dorsey, recently announced that it is buying Afterpay, a Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) company, for a whopping $29 billion. The BNPL category is hot. Max Levchin’s Affirm has gone public. Klarna, the emerging fintech giant from Sweden, has an offering. And even Apple is getting into the game. 

Tech leaders paint BNPL as a boon for those with no credit or bad credit. Truth is not as simple as The Markup points out. The regulators and lawmakers have started paying attention — but will that be enough? Not likely, because every time you visit a store, you get a chance to buy something without paying now!  

Read article on The Markup

Affirm spinout Resolve raises $60M for its B2B ‘buy now, pay later’ platform



Buy now, pay later is everywhere these days, mostly focused on the consumer.

Resolve — a San Francisco-based startup in the space specializing in “buy now, pay later” capabilities for B2B transactions — announced today that it has raised $60 million in funding. Initialized Capital led the round — the company’s first funding since its 2019 inception. KSD Capital, Haystack VC, Commerce Ventures, Clocktower Ventures and others also participated.

The funding is a combination of equity and asset funding according to co-founder and CEO Chris Tsai, although he declined to reveal the breakdown.

Since launching as a spinout from Affirm in 2019, Resolve says it has seen “overwhelming” demand for its B2B buy now, pay later (BNPL) billing offering for business purchases. Notably, the two companies refer business to each other. Tsai describes Affirm founder Max Levchin as a “friend” with whom he has been working in a variety of capacities since 2012. (He’s also reportedly an investor in the company.)

Unlike Affirm — which is more focused on the consumer — Resolve is exclusively focused on business-to-business billing by automating the process of billing and purchasing on credit. What it’s doing is basically allowing businesses to defer payments digitally and on better terms than what they’ve seen historically via an automated underwriting process, the company claims. This, it says, can lead to faster invoice payment and thus, improved cash flow. 

The company also claims it can offer extended payment terms with buyers not having to pay any interest or (Read more...)

Polywork gets $3.5M to blend professional and social networking



Life is complicated and so — increasingly — is work-life. That’s the premise underpinning Polywork, a new professional social network founded by Lystable/Kalo founder, Peter Johnson.

It’s announcing a $3.5 million seed round today, led by by Caffeinated Capital’s Ray Tonsing (who it notes was the first investor in Clubhouse, Airtable and Brex), with participation from the founders of YouTube (Steve Chen), Twitch (Kevin Lin), PayPal (Max Levchin), VSCO (Joel Flory), Behance (Scott Belsky), and Worklife VC (Brianne Kimmel) — to name a few of its long list of angels.

As the list illustrates, Johnson, an ex-Googler (and TC battlefield alum), isn’t short of contacts to tap up for his new startup — having pulled so much VC into Lystable/Kalo.

Albeit we’ve also learned that his earlier startup, which was focused on tools to help companies manage freelancers and gig workers, is no longer active. Kalo/Lystable has hit the deadpool.

We’re told the founders took the decision to pull the plug after being unable to convince investors to keep supporting the business — which had, presumably, been severely impacted by the pandemic as companies laid off freelancers.

Although, in parallel, VC investment has been flowing into startups building marketplaces to help companies work with external talent (as the remote work boom is clearly driving more flexible ways of working) so it’s not clear where exactly Kalo went wrong — perhaps its focus on management tools was simply being overtaken by more fully featured marketplaces which are baking in (Read more...)

Brazil’s Loft adds $100M to its accounts, $700M to its valuation in a single month



Nearly exactly one month ago, digital real estate platform Loft announced it had closed on $425 million in Series D funding led by New York-based D1 Capital Partners. The round included participation from a mix of new and existing investors such as DST, Tiger Global, Andreessen Horowitz, Fifth Wall and QED, among many others.

At the time, Loft was valued at $2.2 billion, a huge jump from its being just near unicorn territory in January 2020. The round marked one of the largest ever for a Brazilian startup.

Now, today, São Paulo-based Loft has announced an extension to that round with the closing of $100 million in additional funding that values the company at $2.9 billion. This means that the 3-year-old startup has increased its valuation by $700 million in a matter of weeks.

Baillie Gifford led the Series D-2 round, which also included participation from Tarsadia, Flight Deck, Caffeinated and others. Individuals also put money in the extension, including the founders of Better (Zach Frenkel), GoPuff, Instacart, Kavak and Sweetgreen.

Loft has seen great success in its efforts to serve as a “one-stop shop” for Brazilians to help them manage the home buying and selling process. 

Image courtesy of Loft

In 2020, Loft saw the number of listings on its site increase “10 to 15 times,” according to co-founder and co-CEO Mate Pencz. Today, the company actively maintains more than 13,000 property listings in approximately 130 regions across São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, partnering with more than 30,000 (Read more...)