All posts in “coinbase”

Cap table management tool Carta valued at $800M with new funding

Startups supporting startups are blazing a new trail with support from venture capitalists.

Co-working spaces like The Wing and The Riveter raked in funding rounds this year, as did Brex, the provider of a corporate card built specifically for startups. Now Carta, which helps companies manage their cap tables, valuations, portfolio investments and equity plans, has announced an $80 million Series D at a valuation of $800 million. The company, formerly known as eShares, raised the capital from lead investors Meritech and Tribe Capital, with support from existing investors.

The round brings Carta’s total funding to $147.8 million. Its existing investors include Spark Capital, Menlo Ventures, Union Square Ventures and Social Capital, though the latter didn’t participate in the Series D funding. Tribe Capital, however, is a new venture capital firm launched by Arjun Sethi, who previously led Social Capital’s investment in Carta, Jonathan Hsu and Ted Maidenberg, a trio of former Social Capital partners who exited the VC firm amid its transition from a traditional VC fund to a technology holding company. Tribe is said to be in the process of raising its own $200 million debut fund.

Founded in 2012 by Henry Ward (pictured), the Palo Alto-based company plans to use the latest investment to develop their transfer agent and equity administration products and services to better support startups transitioning into public companies. It also will launch additional products for investors to collect data from their portfolio companies and to manage their back office.

“We’ve come this far by changing how ownership management works for private companies—popularizing electronic securities and cap table software, combined with audit-ready 409As,” Ward wrote in an announcement. “But our ambitions go far beyond supporting privately-held, venture-backed companies.”

Carta, which counts Robinhood, Slack, Wealthfront, Squarespace, Coinbase and more as customers, currently manages $500 billion in equity. This year, Carta expanded its headcount from 310 employees to 450 employees, launched board management and portfolio insights products and completed a study in partnership with #Angels that highlighted the major equity gap female startup employees are victim to.

The study, released in September, revealed that women own just 9 percent of founder and employee startup equity, despite making up 35 percent of startup equity-holding employees. On top of that, women account for 13 percent of startup founders, but just 6 percent of founder equity — or $0.39 on the dollar.

Earnin raises $125M to help workers track and cash out wages in real time

Before Ram Palaniappan founded Earnin, he developed a system for employees at a payments company called UniRush, where he spent eight years as president. If you needed money before payday, he would write you a check from his checking account and when payday rolled around, employees would reimburse him.

Despite being paid what Palaniappan thought were fair wages, his workers often found themselves in a bind, needing access to wages they couldn’t expect to see in their own bank accounts for days.

“This is such a core pain point,” Palaniappan told TechCrunch. “Over three-fourths of the country live paycheck to paycheck … It’s an issue of fairness. We all have gotten used to getting paid every two weeks, but most employees would rather be paid before they work.”

Palaniappan decided to transform what he had been doing as a favor to employees into a real business with Earnin (formerly known as Activehours), a startup that helps hourly, gig and salary workers track their earnings and transfer them to their checking accounts in real time using a mobile application. Today, the company is announcing a $125 million Series C funding from top-tier investors DST Global, Andreessen Horowitz, Spark Capital, Matrix Partners, March Capital Partners, Coatue Management and Ribbit Capital. Palaniappan declined to disclose the valuation.

Earnin founder and chief executive officer Ram Palaniappan

Here’s how it works: An employee signs up on the Earnin app and connects their bank account. Earnin infers the person’s pay cycle and debits their account the amount they’ve borrowed on their payday. Earnin charges no fees or interest; instead, it operates on a pay it forward revenue model some would balk at. Earnin users have the option to “tip” the app after each transaction and that tip, in turn, is used to fund the next user’s withdrawal. If a user tips more than Earnin thinks is reasonable for the given withdrawal, it will notify the user and give them the option to dial back the tip amount.

What the company has found is that users are usually more than happy to contribute to the Earnin community of workers.

“So often, people are trying to help each other out,” Palaniappan said. “That’s the most powerful piece — how much support the community is providing to each other.”

Earnin was launched in 2014 and has previously raised $65 million in venture capital funding. With the latest investment, it will expand its engineering and product teams across its offices in Palo Alto — where it’s headquartered — as well as in Cincinnati and Vancouver.

The app, often among the App Store’s top 10 financial apps, has more than 1 million downloads, the company says, and is used by employees at more than 50,000 companies — many of which check the app every day. Palaniappan says its users are working more than 15 million hours per week. If each user works an estimated 40 hours per week, that means the app has roughly 375,000 weekly active users.

He added that the startup’s growth in the last four years has been “quite remarkable.” Given the investor support it’s received, it’s likely to step into “unicorn” territory soon. Ribbit Capital, for example, is a leading fintech investing firm with capital invested in Coinbase, Revolut, Gusto, Wealthfront, NuBank, Brex and more.

Coinbase’s Earn.com becomes a crypto webinar with crypto rewards

Coinbase acquired Earn.com for at least $120 million back in April. And the company now plans to transform Earn.com into Coinbase Earn, a website with educational content to learn more about cryptocurrencies. Users who complete those classes will earn tokens.

Coinbase bought Earn.com partly so that it could appoint Earn.com co-founder and CEO Balaji Srinivasan as Coinbase’s CTO. The previous iteration of Earn.com wasn’t a priority for Coinbase.

Earn.com started as a service where you can contact busy people for a small fee. Busy people would get paid in cryptocurrencies to accept those requests. The platform quickly became a way to massively contact Earn.com’s user base for initial coin offerings and airdrops.

Coinbase Earn is launching today in private beta. But at the time of this article, the new Coinbase Earn service is not live. Some Coinbase users will receive an invitation to the service. The company says that educational content will go beyond Bitcoin and Ethereum. Developing education pages for obscure cryptocurrencies makes sense as Coinbase plans to add dozens of cryptocurrencies over the coming months.

At first, there is just one track. Users can learn more about 0x (ZRX), a protocol that lets you create decentralized exchanges. Cryptocurrency trades can be executed without a centralized exchange thanks to 0x .

0x content includes video lessons and quizzes — and yes, writing this makes me feel like it’s 2005 and webinars are cool again. Even if you’re not invited to Coinbase Earn, you can view the content. But those who are part of Coinbase Earn will receive a small amount of ZRX at the end of the track.

Coinbase had previously launched a learning hub to understand the basics of cryptocurrencies.

Disclosure: I own small amounts of various cryptocurrencies.

Coinbase lets you convert one cryptocurrency into another

It’s hard to believe that you still had to convert your BTC into USD in order to buy ETH on Coinbase. The company is finally adding direct cryptocurrency-to-cryptocurrency conversions.

The feature works with Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Litecoin (LTC), 0x (ZRX) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). It is only available to U.S. customers for now, but the company plans to roll out the feature to other countries too.

Let’s look at the fees more closely. If you live in Europe or the U.S., every time you buy or sell cryptocurrencies using USD or EUR, you pay at least 1.49 percent in fees on top of the spread (the difference between the highest selling price and the lowest purchasing price). Fees are even higher if you’re using a credit or debit card.

Coinbase says that the spread between a fiat currency and a cryptocurrency should be around 0.5 percent but may vary depending on the trading pair and the order queue.

If you buy or sell less than 200 USD or equivalent, fees get much more expensive. For instance, a $10 order will generate $0.99 in fees, or 9.9 percent. Customers pay 3 percent in fees for a $100 order.

But the good news is that it’s a completely different story with token-to-token transactions. Coinbase doesn’t charge you any markup fee — but there’s some inevitable spread. And with some obscure trading pairs (exchanging ZRX for BCH for instance), you might end up paying around 1 percent in spread. Still, it’s a much better user experience for those who just want to trade on Coinbase.

Without even mentioning other exchanges, Coinbase Pro users have been able to trade between multiple cryptocurrencies for a long time. But Coinbase is still the entry gate for many new cryptocurrency users.

Fintech startup Plaid raises $250M at a $2.65B valuation

In the five years since its product was showcased onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt New York’s hackathon, Plaid has emerged as one of the most critical contributors to financial technology’s evolution — and one of the most under the radar.

That is, until now. The company is today announcing a $250 million Series C investment led by famed venture capitalist and the author of the Internet Trends report Mary Meeker, who will join its board of directors as part of the deal. The funds were raised at a valuation of $2.65 billion, according to sources close to the company. Capital from Meeker’s investment came from Kleiner Perkins’ growth fund — where Meeker has been a partner since 2010 — not from the reported billion-dollar-plus solo fund she’s in the process of raising.

New investors Andreessen Horowitz and Index Ventures also participated, as did existing investors Goldman Sachs, NEA and Spark Capital. The financing brings Plaid’s total raised to $310 million and provides a major boost to its valuation, which was just over $200 million with its 2016 Series B.

Making money easier for everyone

Plaid builds infrastructure that allows a consumer to interact with their bank account on the web through a number of third-party applications, like Venmo, Robinhood, Coinbase, Acorns and LendingClub. The San Francisco-based startup has integrated with 10,000 banks in the U.S. and Canada and says 25 percent of people living in those countries with bank accounts have linked with Plaid through at least one of the hundreds of apps that leverage Plaid’s application program interfaces (APIs) — an increase from 13 percent last year.

The platform allows companies to create financial services applications without having to hire their own team of engineers to build out a tool that connects apps to its users’ bank accounts, something Plaid’s founders themselves lacked when they set out to build a fintech startup years ago. Plaid was founded by a pair of former Bain consultants, William Hockey and Zach Perret, the chief technology officer and chief executive officer, respectively, in 2012.

“We were always really infatuated with the concept of financial services,” Hockey told TechCrunch. “We thought it had so much power to impact and improve people’s lives but at the time it really wasn’t … We quickly realized building financial services was almost impossible to do because there wasn’t the tooling or the infrastructure, so we turned around and started building that infrastructure.”

Plaid closed a $44 million Series B in mid-2016 and has since seen its valuation increase more than tenfold. On top of that, it doubled its customer base this year, launched in Canada — its first market outside the U.S. — opened its third office, expanded its overall headcount to 175 employees and debuted a digital mortgage product called Assets.

Hockey and Perret say the new funding will be used to continue expanding the team in San Francisco, Salt Lake City and New York. Plaid, given how essential its tools are to any technology companies that deals with payments in any fashion, which these days is the vast majority of businesses, is a company to watch going into 2019.

“When we think about our long-term goals, we want to make money easier for everyone,” Perret told TechCrunch. “We want everyone to lives these simple, straightforward digitally enabled financial lives and for us, that means supporting these tech innovators in the space and these large incumbents. We want to be able to help them create great consumer financial experiences so consumers can live simpler financial lives.”