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It's All About The Likes

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Feb 20, 2021


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Published:

Feb 20, 2021


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We now live in a world where even the simplest of tasks can be handled for us - from meal delivery, to investing in stocks, even buying a home - all from the comfort of our own couch. In addition to the obvious (e.g. Uber, Doordash, Task Rabbit), there are a multitude of platforms for freelancers, creators (TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, etc) and most services you could imagine.

What often gets overlooked, however, is that with this newfound convenience and ease of access for the consumer, there is a worker on the other side, who may not feel quite as happy about the way the service economy is evolving. Uber’s recent court battles demonstrate the complicated nature of how its drivers are classified. While the support of Prop 22 means drivers are still not classified as employees, a recent decision in the U.K. came to the opposite conclusion, which could have serious knock-on effects for the gig economy.

For the creator, the opportunity has never been bigger. 75% of children between the ages of 6 and 17 want to become a YouTuber. Being an influencer is both an acceptable and envied job title. As a result of this phenomenon, there is an enormous opportunity for entirely new use cases of financial services. There are now digital banks, credit cards, and lending solutions specifically for online creators. Many of the most popular platforms are finding innovative ways to better help their creators monetize their success, and become even wealthier.

Unfortunately, the massive success that some have seen is usually not replicated, and financial freedom is much harder to come by than initially anticipated. Given the wealth disparity that already exists, we can only hope a rising tide lifts all boats across the “non-traditional” employment spectrum. Or the era of the Youtuber might turn out as short as a TikTok video…

Portfolio News


Olugbenga Agboola named to 2021 Time100 Next - Congratulations to portfolio company Flutterwave CEO Olugbenga Agboola for being named to the Time100 Next's list of innovators for 2021. The Time100 Next is an annual list that serves as an extension to the Time100 list, aiming to highlight "the 100 individuals who are shaping the future of their fields and defining the next generation of leadership in business, entertainment, health and science, sports, activism, and more." Read more

NYDIG files to create a new bitcoin ETF, becoming latest firm to seek SEC approval - NYDIG's filing notably reveals that Morgan Stanley will serve as the proposed ETF's authorized participant. If approved, NYDIG's bitcoin ETF will trade on the NYSE Arca exchange. NYDIG subsidiaries NYDIG Asset Management LLC and NYDIG Trust Company LLC would serve as sponsor and bitcoin custodian, respectively. Read more

Fondeadora's co-founder featured in upcoming Finnosummit webinar - Pablo Cuaron, Mastercard's Director of New Payment Streams, will moderate a panel on Challenger Bank, Open Banking, BaaS and the future of payment methods, which will feature René Serrano from Fondeadora, among other peers in the space. Read more

It's All About The Likes


The gig economy is coming for millions of American jobs - California’s vote to classify Uber and Lyft drivers as contractors has emboldened other employers to eliminate salaried positions—and has become a cornerstone of bigger plans to “Uberize” the U.S. workforce. Read more

The creator economy needs a middle class - On most content platforms today, the ethos of the American Dream is alive and well — a recent study of kids ages eight to 12 found that nearly 30% aspire to become YouTubers. With countless examples of normal people achieving massive success on the platform, this should come as no surprise. But while some have been propelled to massive stardom, examples of a wide swath of the population achieving financial security from these platforms are few and far between. Read more

YouTube is adding new ways for creators to make money - YouTube plans to roll out new monetization opportunities for creators, including ways to make money directly from viewers. YouTube wants to help creators build business, which is an endeavor it began over ten years ago with the launch of the YouTube Partner Program. Read more

Uber loses U.K. court ruling on drivers in blow to gig economy - The judges unanimously ruled that Uber drivers are “workers” entitled to rights like minimum wage, holiday pay and rest breaks. The ruling will have a significant impact on the U.K.’s burgeoning gig economy and comes amid a broader global fight over the rights of workers on apps. Many of the companies that rely on these kinds of workers have thrived during the global pandemic, deploying drivers to make deliveries to customers stuck at home while shops and restaurants were shut. Read more

Industry News


Jack Dorsey and Jay Z invest 500 BTC to make Bitcoin ‘internet’s currency’ - The duo is putting 500 bitcoin, which is currently worth $23.6m, in the endowment called ₿trust. The fund will be set up as a blind irrevocable trust, Dorsey said, adding that the duo won’t be giving any direction to the team. Read more

Investors are now valuing Stripe at $115b - Investors are valuing Stripe at a $115b valuation in “secondary market” transactions, which is up more than threefold from the $36b Stripe fetched when it raised money in April 2020 from venture firms including Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst and Sequoia. Stripe is also planning a new primary funding round at a valuation north of $100b, according to a person familiar with the matter. Read more

Citigroup cannot recoup Revlon payouts after nearly $900m gaffe - A federal judge on Tuesday said Citigroup is not entitled to recoup half a billion dollars of its own money that it mistakenly wired lenders of Revlon, in what he called "a banking error of perhaps unprecedented nature and magnitude." U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan said the Aug. 11, 2020, transfers were “final and complete transactions, not subject to revocation.” Read more

Bitcoin’s rise reflects America’s decline - The rise in popularity of highly volatile cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin could simply be seen as a speculative sign of U.S. Federal Reserve-enabled froth. But it might better be interpreted as an early signal of a new world order in which the U.S. and the dollar will play a less important role. Read more

Visa failed with Plaid. What’s its fintech plan now? - Visa global head of fintech Terry Angelos talks about the company's interest in striking partnerships and desire to be as prominent as Stripe. But Visa's vision is not just about partnering and wooing fintechs. Despite what happened with the Plaid deal, acquisitions will continue to be part of Visa's game plan. Read more

Robinhood allows crypto deposit and withdrawal including Dogecoin - Brokerage app Robinhood will allow customers to deposit and withdraw cryptocurrencies, Reuters reported. That will include the meme-based dogecoin. Currently, Robinhood doesn't invest in cryptocurrency or use any customer cryptocurrency for its own benefit. Read more

Artificial intelligence isn’t just for quants anymore - Artificial intelligence is no longer simply an experiment for traditional asset managers. Firms that have implemented a full range of artificial intelligence techniques — including data mining, signal generation, and optimization — are generating 3 percent in alpha, according to a new Accenture report. Read more

Goldman Sachs to offer its investing know-how to the masses - You used to need at least $10m in investable assets to draw the attention of wealth managers at Goldman Sachs. Now, all it takes is $1,000 and a smartphone. The Wall Street firm recently unveiled Marcus Invest, a low-cost digital platform that allocates and automatically rebalances individuals’ wealth across portfolios of stocks and bonds based on the models developed by the firm’s investment-strategy committee. Read more

Dogecoin has a top dog worth $2.1b - The dogecoin market has a pack leader. Records show that a person, or entity, owns about 28% of all of the cryptocurrency in circulation—a stake worth about $2.1b at current prices. The holder’s identity isn’t known, which is common in the opaque world of digital currencies. Read more

MicroStrategy raises Bitcoin bet with more convertible bonds - MicroStrategy is doubling down on its big bet on Bitcoin. The enterprise software maker announced a $600m convertible bond offering Tuesday, with the intention of adding to its Bitcoin stash amid a surge that pushed the price of the world’s largest cryptocurrency past $50,000 for the first time. The convertible senior notes are due to mature on Feb 15, 2027. Read more

Competition heats up among Argentina’s digital wallets - Digital wallets are booming in Argentina, and the banks, fintechs and big techs behind them are looking at how they can get a competitive edge over their peers. Read more

Covid-19 forces electronic shift in bond markets - By December, one in every three transactions was taking place on an electronic platform, according to data from Greenwich Associates. This momentum continued last month, with volumes of digital trading in investment-grade and high-yield bonds rising 3% and 7% year-on-year, respectively. Analysts and traders expect this shift to continue. Read more

Investors, founders report hot market for API startups - Speaking with founders and investors this year, it has become clear to Techcrunch that the API model of delivering a product is more than an occasional hit-maker for companies like Twilio or Plaid. Instead, it appears that there is ample room for lots of API-powered startups to build and prosper. Read more

Cubs owner Ricketts merges bond broker with fintech startup - Tom Ricketts, the owner of the Chicago Cubs, says his bond broker Incapital lost its technological edge while he spent the past decade building one of the most successful teams in baseball. The billionaire believes he’s found a solution: merging the business with a San Francisco-based fintech startup called 280 CapMarkets. Read more

China mulls easing capital controls on offshore investments - China is considering relaxing restrictions to allow its citizens to invest in securities outside its mainland in a bid to facilitate two-way capital flows as it opens its own capital markets to more foreign participation. The State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) will conduct a study to see if it can allow domestic investors to use their $50,000 annual forex quota for purchases of securities and insurance offshore. Read more

North America’s first bitcoin ETF captures flurry of trading on debut - Close to 10m shares in the Purpose Investments bitcoin ETF changed hands on the first day of trading in Toronto, according to data from exchange operator TMX Group tracking the Canadian dollar version of the fund. Read more

How Apple Pay helps ‘cheat’ banks out of $250b in payments - Many consumers don’t link their primary debit and credit cards to their mobile payment apps but nearly 30% of Apple Pay users and 40% of Google Pay users link a debit or credit card from a provider other than their primary bank or credit card issuer to their Apple and Google mobile payment apps. In essence, these consumer are “cheating” on their primary providers. Read more

Select Financings


Blockchain.com - London based provider of cryptocurrency services raised $120m in new funding from investors including GV, Kyle Bass, Access Industries, Moore Strategic Ventures, Rovida Advisers and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Read more

Kalshi - San Francisco based online trading startup for wagering on questions about future events raised $30m in Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital. Read more

Knock - Seattle based developer of property management software raised $20m in growth funding led by Fifth Wall Ventures. Read more

KreditBee - India based digital lending startup raised $75m in Series C funding led by PremjiInvest. Read more

PayZen - San Francisco based healthcare payments tech company raised $5m in Seed funding led by Viola Ventures. Read more

Personetics - New York based provider of data-driven personalization and customer engagement tools for banks and financial services companies raised $75m in growth funding from Warburg Pincus. Read more

Promise - Oakland based payments company for local governments and utilities raised $20m in Series A funding led by Kapor Capital and XYZ. Read more

Public - New York based social investing app raised $220m in Series D funding from investors including Accel, Greycroft, Lakestar, Intuition Capital, Tiger Global, Mantis VC, Dreamers VC, Inspired Capital, Aglae Ventures and Phil DeFranco. Read more

Realm - New York based data hub for homeowners raised $3m in Seed funding from Primary Venture Partners, Lerer Hippeau, and Liberty Mutual Strategic Venture Partners. Read more

SeedFi - San Francisco based startup developing a platform for lower income Americans to build credit and save money raised $15m in Series A funding led by a16z. Read more

Standard Cognition - San Francisco based autonomous checkout solution raised $150m in Series C funding led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. Read more

Synthetix - Australia based decentralized trading platform raised $12m in new funding from Coinbase Ventures, Paradigm and IOSG. Read more

Titan - New York based “operating system for active investment management” raised $12.5m in Series A funding led by General Catalyst. Read more

Varo Bank - San Francisco based neobank raised $63m in new funding led by NBA star Russell Westbrook’s Russell Westbrook Enterprises. Read more

Zolve - India based cross border neobanking platform raised $15m in Seed funding led by Accel and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Read more


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