Payment startup Curve has raised a fresh $95 million but faces questions over its late financial filings

Curve Shachar 6

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Payment card startup Curve has landed a fresh $95 million in Series C funding, but has raised eyebrows for filings its 2019 financial accounts late.

Founded in April 2018, Curve has now raised some $175 million in funding. The startup offers a payment card that digitally aggregates all of a user’s debit and credit cards.

Unlike in the US, private firms of a certain size in the UK are obliged to file detailed annual accounts. It can be a valuable snapshot into the state of a business.

Curve was due to file its full-year results for 2019 on 31 December but missed the deadline. Sifted reported that the firm had already been granted extensions to its filing deadline in March and October. Curve is also under caution by the UK’s financial regulator over its lack of records.  The fine for not filing accounts is, however, negligible

Asked why the filings were late, a Curve representative said: “We have now filed our 2019 accounts at Companies House. These were delayed by a few days, as a result of our focus being fully centered on a successful Series C fundraise.”

Insider has previously raised questions about Curve’s transparency.

During a crowdfunding drive in September 2019, Curve did not reveal a monthly active user figure, but claimed in an investor pitch deck it would reach 4 million customers by the end of 2020. The firm subsequently raised £6 million ($7.7 million) from the drive. Figures obtained by Insider for May 2019 indicated monthly active users were a tiny fraction of its then-500,000 customer number, implying the firm was struggling at that point to keep users loyal.

A Curve representative on Monday declined to disclose active user base, but said the company had seen significant growth.

“The number of active users is commercially sensitive information, but what we can say is that over the past 12 months we have seen significant growth both in customer numbers, which now total 2 million up from around a million at the start of 2020, and the value of transactions processed by our platform, which now exceeds £2 billion up from around £1 billion over the same period,” they said. “Both of these metrics demonstrate our impressive growth trajectory of the business and the appeal of our products and services. Investors too are comfortable with our progress as proved by our successful Series C round.”

And one early investor in Curve told Insider that they were fully on-board with Curve and had no issue with either its lack of filing or MUA figures. 

With its new funds, Curve is planning to grow its headcount from around 300 currently to around 600 in the next 12 months by hiring across Europe and the US. The company also plans to develop a new product called Curve Credit. 

In addition to its 2019 accounts being overdue on Companies House, , the company has been accused of a lack of transparency. 

The funding round was led by IDC Ventures, Fuel Venture Capital and Vulcan Capital, with participation from OneMain Financial and Novum Capital. Curve previously raised a $55 million Series B in September 2019

“The proceeds of the fundraise will be used to support international expansion and research and development,” Shachar Bialick, founder and CEO at Curve, told Insider.”Our expansion plans will focus primarily on launching in the US and deepening our foothold in the European market, which has shown a very strong pool during 2020. Both markets offer incredibly exciting growth prospects in 2021 and beyond.”

The company declined to comment on its new valuation. 

SEE ALSO: The London fintech aiming to become the ‘Spotify for money’ raised $55 million using this pitch deck

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Checkout.com was founded by a college dropout and just became Europe's most valuable startup after raising $450 million at a $15 billion valuation

Summary List PlacementPayments firm Checkout.com is now Europe’s most valuable startup after raising $450 million at a $15 billion valuation. 
It’s one of the largest recent funding rounds in Europe and makes the company the fourth most valuable privately owned fintech worldwide.
Founded by college dropout Guillaume Pousaz in 2012, Checkout.com raised Europe’s biggest ever Series A round of $230 million in May 2019, at a valuation of $2 billion. That was followed by a $150 million Series B in June last year at a $5.5 billion valuation.
Checkout.com powers the payments process of major companies like soon-to-be-public food delivery unicorn Deliveroo, fintech giant TransferWise, and Adidas.
“We had an exceptional year last year, particularly towards the end of 2020 with around $1 billion a week of e-commerce volumes,” Checkout’s founder and CEO Pousaz told Insider. “We had no plans to raise but had remained in touch with investors who have a long-term view of the business. This is going to be a generation-defining company.” 
The startup claims to have added more than 500 new enterprise clients in 2020 including Coinbase, Pizza Hut, H&M, Grab, Klarna, Farfetch, and messaging app Telegram. The company’s competitors include Stripe, last valued at $36 billion, and Dutch payment firm Adyen, which went public in 2018.
Checkout’s financial filings for the full-year 2019, parts of which have been examined by Insider, show revenue of $146.4 million, up from $74.8 million in 2018. Adjusted EBITDA was $5.47 million for the year. The firm’s full filings are not yet publicly available, and were due to be filed with the UK’s company register on 31 December. Pousaz said that the accounts were filed on time at the end of December, but could take two weeks to appear.
Its Series C was led by hedge fund giant Tiger Global Management with participation from Greenoaks Capital and existing investors amid a boom in interest in fintech startups from the private equity world. Checkout.com claims to have tripled its payment processing volume during 2020 as e-commerce boomed during the pandemic. 
The global payments market was worth just under $2 trillion in 2019, according to research from McKinsey. Checkout’s staggering valuation is almost triple the price it reached six months ago.
“We’ve never been chasing league tables and have always been very disciplined in our approach,” Pousaz added. “Our product in the hands of some of the most forward-thinking merchants in the world which is a validation in our business. Our investors understand public markets and are investing in the industries of tomorrow.”
Amid a growth in demand for fintech, high valuations are everywhere. Payments rival Stripe could seek a $100 billion valuation in its next round, Bloomberg reported. Similarly, US challenger bank Chime hit a new $14.5 billion valuation last year while buy now, pay later giant Klarna raised $650 million at a near $11 billion valuation in September 2020.
When asked about the hot IPO market and Checkout’s chances of going public, Pousaz said: “It’s certain that we will be a public company, we have public market investors on our cap table but there is no pressure on us. The reality is that our Series A was around 20 months ago so our timing is dependent on our roadmap.”SEE ALSO: Fintech startups like Revolut and Luno are seeing a boom in demand from consumers rushing to invest in cryptocurrencies amid major bitcoin interest
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See the pitch deck that landed startup Lacework $525 million in the largest investment round for a cybersecurity company in the last year

Summary List PlacementHow do you convince investors to give a startup $525 million? 
“You have to have a lot of proof points,” Lacework CEO Dan Hubbard told Insider, after his Silicon Valley startup raked in a half-billion-dollar round after previously raising a total of $74.4 million. 
The six-year-old Silicon Valley company addresses the booming area of providing cybersecurity to companies growing and moving their operations to public cloud providers like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure.
Perhaps the most important proof point is the total addressable market (TAM) that Lacework is tackling – a figure that gauges revenue opportunity – is climbing 20% year over year and reaching $13 billion in 2024. Analysts back that up.
Analyst Daniel Ives, managing director of equity research at Wall Street analyst firm Wedbush Securities, told Insider on Friday that “there’s $200 billion up for grabs in the next five years in cloud security.”
“We have the right product in the right market at the right time,” Hubbard told Insider last week. “The problem has come to us.” 
The company says it has seen revenue triple each of the past two years as more businesses build and run applications on the major cloud platforms. The company did not disclose revenue or specific valuation, but says the latter is above $1 billion. 
PitchBook shows the funding round was the largest in the cybersecurity industry for the past year, and the 22nd largest in all US industries over that span. 
It could have been even larger, Hubbard said. “There was an incredible amount of interest. There are going to be some people who feel left out.” 
Mike Speiser, managing director at Sutter Hill Ventures, compared the startup to his firm’s runaway success investment Snowflake, which has rocketed to a market cap of some $76 billion after its September IPO. 
Here’s the pitch deck Lacework used to land the mammoth funding round. Some slides with customer and competitive data have been removed by the company to protect proprietary information.

We got an exclusive look at the pitch deck $3 billion valued healthtech startup Hinge Health used to raise $300 million

Summary List PlacementThe global digital health sector has unsurprisingly boomed amid the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic, with companies and consumers increasingly seeking out alternatives to in-person services.
Investors too are pouring more money into the space. One recent beneficiary is Hinge Health, which raised $300 million earlier in January to become the most highly valued private healthtech in the US, the company said. 
The Series D round was jointly led by private equity giants Coatue Management and Tiger Global and raised the valuation of startup to $3 billion, according to Hinge Health’s announcement.
The San Franc iso-based startup offers a digital clinic for musculoskeletal (MSK) pain and is available to more than 300 enterprise customers in the US. The company’s customer base tripled and revenue quadrupled in 2020, according to Hinge Health’s CEO Daniel Perez. 
“It was a very interesting year for us — in March every investor was concerned due to the pandemic, but we decided to stay the course,” Perez told Insider in an interview. “We knew there would be a counter revolution after a five or so week period where people weren’t answering the phone. We said, ‘If we can overcome this and execute we will win’  — and we were one of fastest growing companies in tech last year.”
The startup, founded in 2015, avoided layoffs or salary cuts and continued to hire last year. This new fundraising will help Hinge Health continue on its growth trajectory, with its current 550 headcount likely to double by the end of 2021, Perez said. The company was named as a healthtech company changing the industry recently.
Amid a crazy year for IPO listings in the US, and a likely continued surge into 2021, Hinge Health is primed for a debut on the public markets. 
“There was enormous investor interest when we opened the round — within 24 hours we had more than $400 million in commitments,” Perez added. “They [Coatue and Tiger Global] are the two best funds for a pre-IPO round, it’s very rare that they co-lead the same round.”
The two private equity firms’ involvement continues a trend of major hedge funds and private equity piling into late stage startups. 
Existing investors Atomico, Insight Partners, Quadrille, 11.2 Capital, Lead Edge Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Heuristic Capital also participated in the funding round. Hinge Health has raised just over $426 million in total, according to Crunchbase.
Read more: Investors are pouring cash into mental health startups during a rough 2020. Here are 19 to watch, picked by top European VCs.
Despite the obvious incentives provided by public markets to buzzy startups, Perez claims that the company’s growth path is “laser focused” on growing its digital clinic for MSK.
“There is no pressure to IPO soon,” said Perez. “We’re hoping to be in a position to go public, or whatever, in 2022.”
To put Hinge Health’s rise into context, the company’s previous funding round (a $90 million fundraise in February 2020) valued the business at $428 million, one-sixth of the most recent valuation.
Perez said there’s still ample opportunity to grow further. “Healthcare is one-sixth of the US economy and around one-fifth of that is related to MSK,” he said. “That’s around 3% of [gross domestic product] so it’s a huge area of spend to disrupt.”
Check out Hinge Health’s pitch deck below: SEE ALSO: We asked 12 prominent European tech investors to pick out fintech startups they think will blow up in 2021. Here are the 20 they chose.

The 5 top cannabis startups that VCs can't stop talking about

Summary List PlacementIf 2020 was the year for cannabis startups to tighten their belts, trim the fat, and focus on weathering the pandemic, then 2021 is set to be a boon for the companies that have emerged mostly unscathed, investors told Business Insider.
We asked the top private equity and venture investors in the cannabis industry to name the startups they believe are poised for major growth this year. The startups that made our list range from dispensary and cultivation chains, like Ascend Wellness Holdings, to cannabis software firms like Dutchie.
Most of the investors we talked to said that startups with strong management teams that made it through 2020 will have lots of opportunity in front of them next year, as more states open legal cannabis markets, and institutional investors start getting more comfortable with the industry. 
Read more: From LeafLink to Greenbits, meet the 8 buzzy cannabis startups that raised the most cash in 2020
There was a significant uptick in VC interest in cannabis startups in 2020, particularly on the software side, around August. Two tech startups that made our list — Dutchie and LeafLink — closed large funding rounds this year.
To put together this story, Business Insider asked a representative from each of the 17 investment firms that made our list of the top investors in the industry to name two companies that are poised for huge growth in 2021.
Each investor was asked to recommend one startup they invested in and one they hadn’t. In total, investors gave us 27 names — the following five came up most often.
Here are the top five startups cannabis investors say will blow up in 2021:LeafLink — 3 votes

Founded: 2015
Located: New York City (HQ), Los Angeles, Toronto
Post-money valuation: Declined to disclose.
Biggest funding round of 2020: $40 million closed in December 2020
Total raised to date: $91 million, according to LeafLink. The company also closed a $250 million debt facility earlier this year to support its payment product.
What the company does: LeafLink is a wholesale marketplace for the cannabis industry. The company says its e-commerce marketplace approach has “optimized and fueled the growth of the cannabis industry, creating new efficiencies in the wholesale buying process with supply-chain software and services.”
Why VCs like the company: 
DCM Ventures partner Kyle Lui says LeafLink’s payments product, LeafLink Financial, is “a much-needed solution that should see strong continued growth.”
“LeafLink, a portfolio company since January 2017, is our top pick and best performing investment,” Phyto Partners’ Larry Schnurmacher told Business Insider. He says the startup is the largest business-to-business marketplace in the cannabis industry.
Schnurmacher says his firm made its initial investment in the company’s seed round. “We believe LL [LeafLink] will be the most valuable ancillary company in cannabis,” he added in an email.
Gron Ventures managing partner Wilder Ramsey says that he likes Leaflink because it powers a third of the cannabis wholesale market in the US. This, he said, is “an incredible, winning position that would be difficult or impossible to achieve in a mature industry.”
“Their new lending and logistics products are solving critical problems in the space, allowing customers to scale compliantly with far more flexibility, and we expect the company’s services to be so ubiquitous and foundational in the space that in 10 years it will be no exaggeration to say the industry was built on Leaflink,” Ramsey continued.
Dutchie — 3 votes

Founded: 2017
Located: Bend, Oregon
Post-money valuation: $205 million, according to PitchBook. Dutchie declined to disclose a figure.
Biggest funding round of 2020: $35 million closed in August 2020. Read Business Insider’s coverage of the round here, where we got an exclusive look at the pitch deck Dutchie used to close the round.
Total raised to date: $53 million, according to Dutchie. 
What the company does: Dutchie is an e-commerce software startup that connects cannabis consumers to dispensaries and allows them to order products from their homes. It also powers online ordering tools for the dispensaries themselves. 
Why VCs like the company: 
“Dutchie was an early mover in the B2C eCommerce space in cannabis, and while not a HALLEY portfolio company, B2C eCommerce is a large component of nearly every other product and service outside of cannabis,” HALLEY Venture Partners Managing Director Steve Schuman told Business Insider. “WeedMaps’ recently announced $1.5 billion deal with Silver Spike SPAC is a validation of the growing importance of that piece of the puzzle.”
In general, Schuman said, e-commerce feels fragmented and underdeveloped in the cannabis space, and his firm continues to look for solutions to help brands and dispensaries connect with consumers and patients online.
“Dutchie is the leading e-commerce platform in cannabis,” says Gron Ventures managing partner Wilder Ramsey. “In three years it has grown from zero to more than $2.6 billion in annual GMV, making it one of the fastest-growing and most efficient commerce platforms of all time, in any vertical.”
“This performance is testament to a remarkable team,” Ramsey continued, “anchored by brothers Ross and Zach Lipson, who are setting pace for all of us in an industry characterized by torrid growth.”
“Dutchie is already a success story and they are going big with their recent raise,” said Panther Opportunity Fund’s Jordan Tritt. “Their CEO, Ross Lipson, has already exited multiple businesses in the online ordering and delivery space and his timing is right with the increased digitization of cannabis favoring online ordering.”
Grassdoor — 3 votes

Founded: 2018
Located: Commerce, California
Post-money valuation: Declined to disclose.
Biggest funding round of 2020: Declined to disclose.
Total raised to date: Declined to disclose.
What the company does: Grassdoor is a startup that sells and delivers cannabis products to consumers in Southern California. The company declined to comment for this article.
Why VCs like the company: 
Grassdoor has an impressive team and technology, Navy Capital’s Sean Stiefel told Busness Insider. The company also has a “differentiated business model to go after the DTC delivery market,” Stiefel said in an email.
“Because they developed their depot processes in parallel with their proprietary tech stack, they have been able to scale their business in an incredibly efficient manner,” said AFI Capital Partners’ Nico Richardson. “As a result, Grassdoor has become a leading delivery platform in less than two years of operation.” 
“Operating in DTC (direct to consumer) cannabis delivery, Grassdoor has a lot of competition,” Measure 8 founding partner Boris Jordan told Business Insider. “In a short period of time, the company has earned top marks from customers as the ‘go-to’ platform for cannabis on demand.”
With constant focus on efficiency and customer service, Jordan says his firm sees a bright future for the company.
 
We updated this article to clarify Grassdoor’s business model on December 30.
Connected — 2 votes

Founded: 2009
Located: Sacramento, California
Post-money valuation: Decline to disclose.
Biggest funding round of 2020: N/A
Total raised to date: $25 million Series A round closed July 2019
What the company does: Connected is a craft California cannabis brand that sells high-end flower.
Why VCs like the company: 
Connected is “the leading flower company in California with a fantastic management team,” said Navy Capital’s Sean Stiefel.
The company dominates the premium flower market in California, Stiefel said. 
“Connected Cannabis grows and manufactures high-quality cannabis flower at scale,” said Gotham Green Partners’ Jason Adler. “Compared to most craft brands in the state, Connected has differentiated itself with an ability to produce a consistent quality product at scale and seamlessly introduce new strains in a relatively short time frame.”
“We believe that the high-end flower segment will continue to benefit from several tailwinds, particularly the maturation of the consumer palate and new recreational markets with greenfield opportunities for expansion,” Adler continued.
Ascend Wellness — 2 votes

Founded: 2018
Located: New York, New York
Post-money valuation: Declined to disclose. 
Biggest funding round of 2020: $68.2 million closed in August.
Total raised to date: $208.63 million, according to PitchBook. Ascend Wellness declined to disclose a figure.
What the company does: Ascend Wellness is privately owned cannabis cultivation and dispensary chain, known in the industry as multi-state operators or MSOs. It operates in five states including Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Ohio.
The company said in an email to Business Insider that it focuses on limited license states east of the Rockies, “with flagship locations in desirable retail corridors serving key medical and adult-use markets.”
Why VCs like the company: 
Salveo Capital’s Michael Gruber says he believes Ascend Wellness’s presence in key states like New Jersey means it will be well-positioned for growth.
“We are an investor in the company and had added additional capital to our investment this year. The passing of adult-use in NJ this November is a huge step, and with NJ in our belief will be an amazingly good market,” Gruber said in an email. “This will also likely be key impetus to spur NY, PA, and CT to legalize adult-use as well.”
Gruber added that Salveo is “bullish in general on private MSOs that are focused on key limited license states and where they have gone deep within a limited number of states, and where management has been able to execute in an efficient manner.”
Silverleaf Venture Partners’ Andre Haroche describes Ascend Wellness’ growth as “astounding.”
“They have a fantastic management team lead by industry-veteran Abner Kurtin and we wouldn’t be surprised to see Ascend be publicly traded in the next year or so based on its momentum,” Haroche said.

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