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New York City, Covid


#386
We're Back!

Published:

May 08, 2021


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Posted In:

New York City, Covid

Published:

May 08, 2021


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For those living in New York, signs of normalcy are thankfully returning. In spite of what many predicted at the onset of the pandemic, when there was a mass exodus seeking to escape densely-packed apartment living, it is clear the city is not dead. If anything, the resiliency is impressive and there is a reason that over 8.5m people call it their home.

At this point, more than half of adult New Yorkers have had at least one vaccine shot and cases and hospitalizations have been dropping sharply. Museums are back to 50% capacity, movie theaters are at 33%, you can finally sit at the bar for a drink, and subways will return to 24-hour service on May 17. If you’ve visited any of the parks recently (short of the masks), you’d think something of great value was being given away.

With this resurgence comes a certain degree of gray for many companies. Uncomfortable decisions need to be made as far as what is appropriate to ask of people, regardless of what might be best for the bottom line. For finance and big banks in particular, “return to work” is top of mind, and has been for quite some time. JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs are leading the charge here - encouraging employees to return to the office by the end of May and June respectively. Additionally, while many employees are enjoying the added flexibility, a survey of 400 financial services executives found that ~80% want their staff to spend four to five days per week in the office after the pandemic.

It will be interesting to see how others respond, especially in the broader start-up and financial services ecosystem. For many, this past year was the perfect excuse to find a place with more space, and a cheaper cost of living. Unfortunately, that future might not be in the cards anymore, and in fact might become less desirable. FOMO is a very real thing, especially for young, ambitious grads joining the workforce. If we’ve learned anything from living here, it is that the Big Apple creates plenty of it. So regardless of how you feel about NYC being the place to be (or not), those of us here are looking forward to the return of packed commutes!

Portfolio News


Peloton cofounder launches software company to shake-up a new industry - Huge congratulations to portfolio company Avise on this Forbes feature article announcing the company coming out of stealth! This week cofounders Graham Stanton and Edgar Thomas revealed their new accounting and bookkeeping company, which is aimed at CFOs of fast-growing companies. The pair are out to disrupt the sleepy world of financial software using the same kind of slick, user-friendly design that helped Peloton revolutionize the exercise industry. Read more

Bitcoin is coming to hundreds of U.S. banks this year, says crypto custody firm NYDIG - Bitcoin may be taking another step toward mainstream adoption - for the first time, customers of some U.S. banks will soon be able to buy, hold and sell bitcoin through their existing accounts thanks to portfolio company NYDIG. The company has partnered with fintech giant Fidelity National Information Services to enable U.S. banks to offer bitcoin in coming months, and hundreds are already enrolled in the program. Additionally, after rolling out the initial bitcoin product, NYDIG plans on other services, including debit card rewards paid in bitcoin and a new type of bank account that is FDIC insured, but pays interest in bitcoin. Read more

CFO of world’s largest hedge fund joins NYDIG focus on Bitcoin - John Dalby, CFO of Bridgewater Associates, is joining the NYDIG team, bringing more than two decades of experience in capital markets, asset management and financial services to its bitcoin services. Before joining Bridgewater, Dalby was CFO and COO at D.E. Shaw Renewables Investments, and the CFO of UBS Americas before that. Read more

Flutterwave and Worldpay partner to improve online card payments for eCommerce businesses in SA and Nigeria - Through the partnership, Worldpay will leverage off Flutterwave’s technology to process domestic payments, starting with Nigeria and South Africa further assisting businesses to process online card payments from consumers. Read more

Pacific Western Bank to launch virtual commercial card in partnership with Extend - PWB will now be the first bank to roll out such a simplified solution for payments processing in a white-labeled app available through both the Apple App Store and Google Play. With the new offering, the bank’s clients will gain the ability to generate virtual cards and make for simple and secure virtual payments. The clients, once enabled, will be able to instantly empower their employees, contractors and vendors to use the cards for single or recurring purchases. Read more

Andrew Jamison, CEO & Co-Founder at Extend featured on Leaders in Payments podcast - Andrew is the special guest this week on the Leaders in Payments podcast. Andrew spent the first 10 years of his career at SAP and then moved over to American Express for 12 years where he managed all B2B payments solutions, including virtual card platforms and products. In 2016 he started Extend with two partners. Read more

Fintech in Mexico: Current and future state - Silicon Valley Bank and FinTech Collective invite you to join us for a discussion around the state of both LATAM and US Fintech markets. Hear from Carlos Alonso Torras, Investor at Fintech Collective and Nima Pourshasb, CEO and Co-founder of Minu, regarding their Series A Relationship and how they see the region evolving. Learn more about Why Mexico and Why Now in 2021 and find out more about running a remote company from the operator and investor perspective. Read more

We're Back!


New York City is roaring back to life, one year after its nadir - Rush hour traffic is back. Noise complaints are picking up. And it’s once again difficult to score a reservation at your favorite brunch spot. When the pandemic emptied New York City’s streets last year, some declared it dead. But after a terrible, painful year, the city is now defying those declarations — and getting its mojo back. Read more

Bank bosses want a return to office, underlings aren’t so sure - An Accenture survey of 400 North American financial-services executives found that almost 80% prefer for workers to spend four to five days in the office when the pandemic is over. The majority say remote work is making it difficult to train younger people and is hurting company culture. There’s just one problem: Many employees want to maintain flexibility after proving they can stay productive from home. Read more

Jamie Dimon, fed up with Zoom calls and remote work, says commuting to offices will make a comeback - Jamie Dimon is no fan of the new remote work structure that has taken hold during the coronavirus pandemic. The JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO has already told his U.S. employees they should begin getting used to returning this month with the goal of having 50% of workers rotating through offices by July. While he’s fine with the greater flexibility allowed by employees working from home part time, he said Tuesday that’s no substitute for being at the office. Read more

Goldman Sachs asks most employees to return to office by late June - Banks, which are among the largest employers in New York, have been eager to bring workers back into the office, concerned that an extended period of working from home would hurt the training, camaraderie and work culture that develops when people are together. Many of these firms have allowed at least some, if not most, employees to work from the office during most of the pandemic. Read more

Industry News


eBay Is considering taking crypto as payment, allowing sale of NFTs - eBay CEO Jamie Iannone told CNBC that he is optimistic about the future for his company, including with the potential for the eCommerce site to introduce non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The company is also expanding payments, including ways to pay via Apple Pay and Google Pay, as well as other options like cryptocurrency. Read more

TikTok is the place to go for financial advice if you’re a young adult - The big benefit of TikTok is that it allows users to dole out and obtain information in short, easily digestible video bites. And that can make unfamiliar, complex topics, such as those related to personal finance and investing, more palatable to a younger audience. But can TikTok users, many of whom are in their teens, 20s or early 30s, trust the financial advice that is increasingly being offered on the social-media platform? Read more

Berkshire Hathaway’s stock price is too much for computers - Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is trading at more than $421,000 per Class A share, and the market is optimistic. That’s a problem. The price has grown so high, it has nearly hit the maximum number that can be stored in one common way exchange computers handle digits. Read more

Europe’s largest banks plan joint attack on US payments giants - More than 30 of Europe’s largest banks and credit card processors are trying to create a payments giant capable of shattering a US-dominated “oligopoly”. A Brussels-based venture, which currently employs 40 payment experts, has until September to draw up a blueprint for a pan-European payments service that can be used to pay online as well as in stores, to settle bills between individual consumers and to withdraw cash at ATMs. Read more

Galaxy Digital to buy BitGo in crypto sector’s first $1b deal - The deal coincides with a surge in interest and a nearly yearlong rally in the crypto sector whose market value has surged to $2t. The acquisition will make Galaxy Digital a crypto-focused financial-services firm with more than $40b in assets under custody. The combined company will offer an array of products and services, including trading, custody and asset management, investment banking, prime lending, tax services and even a mining operation, aimed mainly at institutional investors. Read more

Payments startup DLocal said to confidentially file for IPO - The Montevideo, Uruguay based company is working with banks including JPMorgan Chase on a listing that could occur as soon as this year, and is set to be valued at more than $5b. Founded in 2016, DLocal counts General Atlantic, Tiger Global, D1 Capital Partners, Bond and Alkeon Capital among its investors. Read more

Robinhood’s biggest business more than tripled amid trading frenzy - When its customers buy and sell stocks and options, Robinhood routes those orders to high-speed traders, which pay the startup brokerage for the right to execute many of those trades. That business, known as payment for order flow, generated about $331m in revenue for Robinhood in the first quarter, which is more than triple the $91m Robinhood brought in from payment for order flow in the first quarter of 2020. Read more

Chime has agreed to stop using the word ‘bank’ after a California regulator pushed back - The development won’t surprise anyone familiar with U.S. banking laws. No outfit can represent itself as a bank or credit union unless it’s licensed to engage in the business of banking. The commission that pushed back on Chime issues such licenses and regulates state-chartered banks in the state of California through the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation, and it said in the settlement that “at all relevant times herein, Chime was not licensed to operate as a bank in California or in any other jurisdiction, nor was it exempt from such licensure.” Read more

Sure Inc. lawsuit says Boost Insurance is a copycat - It's every founder's worst nightmare: You take money from a venture capitalist, who then uses what he learns from due diligence and board meetings to create a competitor. Sure Inc., a startup that provides the infrastructure layer between insurance companies and consumer brands, has sued Boost Insurance, a rival VC-backed startup whose founder and CEO was an early Sure investor and director. Read more

Bill.com to acquire Divvy, a leader in spend management for SMBs - Bill.com, a leading provider of cloud-based software that simplifies, digitizes, and automates complex back-office financial operations for SMBs, announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Divvy in a stock and cash transaction valued at approximately $2.5b. Read more

WhatsApp Pay set to shake up Brazil’s payments market - Facebook’s messaging app, used daily by millions of Brazilians, will turn the dynamics of the country’s retail payments industry on its head. Read more

Dogecoin’s 12,000% rally spurs hunt for next crypto winner - The jump from one speculative asset to another is indicative of the broader frenzy that has driven up prices for a range of assets including stocks, commodities such as silver and cryptocurrencies. It also shows how new investors with savings bolstered by stimulus checks and who are spending more time at home during the Covid-19 pandemic have become a volatile new force in financial markets. Read more

Yale endowment’s David Swensen dies - After stints at Salomon Brothers and Lehman Brothers, Swensen returned to his alma mater in 1985 to lead its investment office. At the time, endowments were typically conservatively managed, but Swensen overhauled the model dramatically, taking advantage of their long-term focus to invest heavily in the nascent private equity and hedge fund industries. His approach was so successful it revolutionized how endowments and many other institutional investors allocate their money, and the “Yale model” spread and helped change the wider investment industry. Read more

Payments firm Flywire makes U.S. IPO filing public - Boston based payments firm Flywire made its paperwork for a U.S. listing public and revealed a 38% surge in revenue in the latest quarter as it benefits from strong remote working trends due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Flywire had confidentially filed to go public in March and could seek a valuation as high as $3b when it sets terms for the offering. Read more

Fed considers proposal to allow fintech companies access to payment system - In the past few years, new financial products and delivery mechanisms have been introduced that work with traditional banking services. Many institutions, notably, have leveraged emerging technologies, including from institutions working with new types of bank charters designed to support such innovation. To make that happen, institutions have sometimes requested access to the payment system offered by Federal Reserve Banks. Read more

Tala and Visa partnership seeks to ignite stablecoin use in emerging markets - Cuy Sheffield, head of Crypto at Visa, and Shivani Siroya, founder and CEO of Tala, said a new partnership between the two firms is aimed at putting stablecoins into digital wallets, onto credit cards — and bringing that digital commerce direct to merchants. Read more

Coinbase acquires cryptocurrency market analysis tool skew - Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has acquired skew, a UK based data analytics firm for cryptocurrency markets, allowing the exchange to provide real-time data analytics to the institutions and traders who leverage its platform. The acquisition is part of its work to strengthen services for institutional clients. Read more

Citi weighs launching crypto services after surge in client interest - The group is the latest banking giant to consider pushing into the new markets according to Itay Tuchman, its global head of foreign exchange. Despite the reputational challenges, large dealers have been forced to respond to surging interest in bitcoin from asset managers and hedge funds. Tuchman said the bank had not yet decided whether it would offer its clients cryptocurrency-related services, but he said that trading, custody and financing were all under consideration. Read more

99 Pay digital wallet hits 1.3m users and plans to expand throughout Brazil - The digital wallet from Brazilian ride-hailing app 99, owned by the Chinese giant Didi Chuxing since 2018, when the app became the first Brazilian unicorn, hit 1.3m active users less than a year after its launch. Read more

Select Financings


Alt.bank - Brazil based neobank raised $5.5m in Series A funding led by Union Square Ventures. Read more

Bibit - Indonesia based robo-advisor app raised $65m in growth funding led by Sequoia Capital India. Read more

Bitski - San Francisco based NFT enablement platform raised $19m in Series A funding led by a16z. Read more

Bitso - Mexico City based cryptocurrency platform raised $250m in Series C funding led by Tiger Global and Coatue. Read more

Boost Payment Solutions - New York based payments company raised $22m in Series C funding led by Invictus Growth Partners. Read more

HoneyBook - San Francisco based client communication and financial management platform for service-based SMBs and freelancers raised $155m in Series D funding led by Durable Capital Partners. Read more

LoanSnap - San Francisco based lending startup raised $30m in Series B funding led by True Ventures. Read more

Persona - San Francisco based platform that helps companies protect, verify and manage customer identities raised $50m in Series B funding led by Index Ventures. Read more

Qredo - London based decentralized digital asset management infrastructure company raised $11m in Seed funding from G1, Gumi Cryptos, Maven 11, Spartan Group, 1kx, and Kenetic. Read more

Shift Technology - San Francisco based insurance fraud detection company raised $220m in Series D funding led by Advent International. Read more

Sprout.ai - UK based insurance claims settlement startup raised £8m in Series A funding led by Octopus Ventures. Read more

Upshot - Boston based blockchain-based protocol for questions and answers raised $7.5m in Series A funding led by Framework Ventures, CoinFund and Blockchain Capital. Read more

Vanta - San Francisco based automated security and verified compliance platform raised $50m in Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital. Read more

Wealthsimple - Canada based robo-advisor raised $610m in new funding led by Meritech Capital Partners and Greylock. Read more


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