Symbiont Gains “Strong Partner in Asia” with Investment from Hundson Technologies

The amount of the investment was undisclosed. But blockchain startup and smart contracts specialist, Symbiont has picked up funding from China-based Hundsun Technologies. The investment in Symbiont is the first in the U.S. for the financial services software provider and the company, which is partly-owned by Alibaba founder, Jack Ma, will also add an observer to Symbiont’s board of directors. Symbiont CEO Mark Smith referred to the investment as a “clear vote of confidence for Symbiont” and called Hundsun Technologies a “strong partner in Asia.”

Symbiont’s innovation is a smart contracts platform that enables FIs to develop applications based on distributed ledger technology. Current use cases enabling the issuance, trading, and processing of corporate bonds, syndicated loans, and other low-liquidity financial instruments. Guan Xiaolan, executive president of Hundsun highlighted the company’s “superior, mature, and highly differentiated DLT stack,” as well as the technology’s high level of security. “Its smart contracts have a proven ability to automate complex business logic, such as highly tailored employee compensation waterfalls for private companies,” he added.

Pictured: Symbiont CTO and co-founder Adam Krellenstein during his presentation at FinDEVr New York 2016.

It has been almost a year since the State of Delaware partnered with Symbiont in a project called The Delaware Block Initiative designed to make it easier for state government and businesses to leverage blockchain technology. In an update published as part of the Delaware law series last month, Andrea Tinianow of the Delaware Blockchain Initiative and Caitlin Long of Symbiont noted that the “first milestone of DBI’s roadmap” – deploying distributed ledger technology at the state’s public archives – had been achieved. Underscoring the relevance of this initial effort, the two wrote: “By being the first to adopt the technology, the State will maintain its leadership in corporate registry services.”

Also this spring, Symbiont added Yale University computer science professor, Dr. Zhong Shao, to its Technical Advisory Board, and partnered with commodity services specialist, Orebits, who will use Symbiont’s smart contract technology to further develop their eponymous commodity-backed digital assets. The first digital assets, called “orebits,” were made available on Symbiont’s platform in March.

Symbiont was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in New York. Adam Krellenstein, CTO and co-founder of the company, presented “Distributed Ledgers and Smart Contracts” at FinDEVr New York 2016.

Xero Sees $26.4 Million Investment

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Cloud accounting firm Xero recently picked up $26.4 million in new funding. The New Zealand based-company received the investment from U.S.-based Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV).

TCV now holds a 1.3% stake in Xero, having purchased shares of the company from Matrix Partners. The deal takes Matrix Partners’ stake in Xero down from 9.8% to 8.5%. Xero CFO Sankar Narayan told Accounting Today, “It is routine that some early-stage investors will rebalance their portfolios and we’re thrilled to receive strong support from new investors who are ready to join Xero for its next phase of growth.”

Xero was founded in 2006 and went public in New Zealand in 2007. In 2012, the company made its public debut in neighboring Australia and announced plans for a U.S. IPO in the near future. Last week, the company was named a 2017 Top Rated Accounting & Budgeting Software on TrustRadius and earlier this year it received accolades from Inc., which listed Xero among eight business apps that are going to “crush it” in 2017.

At FinDEVr San Francisco 2014, Xero’s Head of U.S. Partnerships, David Pollock, gave a presentation titled Building an API-Driven Ecosystem for Small Business to an audience of developers. The company’s CEO Rod Drury last presented at FinovateSpring 2011.

NYMBUS Scores with $16 Million Investment Led by Home Credit Group

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In a round led by Home Credit Group, core banking technology innovator NYMBUS raised $16 million in new capital. The funds build on the $12 million the FinDEVr/Finovate alum raised in the second half of last year, bringing its total capital to $28 million.

NYMBUS executive chairman Scott Killoh pointed to reliance on outmoded legacy core technology as holding back many institutions in the financial services industry. Because of this, he said “tens of thousands of banks and credit unions are not capitalizing on strategic growth opportunities.” The investment from Home Credit Group will help NYMBUS provide FIs with the modular, third-party friendly core banking technology that will enable them to keep pace with the demands of their customers. NYMBUS President David Mitchell called it “helping … implement digital-first strategies in order to drive customer growth and competitive differentiation.”


Pictured: NYMBUS President David Mitchell during his presentation “NYMBUS: The Next Evolution in Core Processing” at FinDEVr New York.

Founded in 2015 and headquartered in Miami Beach, Florida, NYMBUS presented “The Next Evolution of Core Processing” at FinDEVr New York last year, during which Mitchell explained why the company decided to focus on core processing technology. “If I asked who in this audience has a pager or a Walkman,” Mitchell told the attendees at last year’s event, “not too many people are going to raise their hands. “But community banks right now are on 30-year old, 20-year old technology,” he said. “(It’s) the oldest technology in the world. It’s been lipstick on a pig, mainframes, green screens for 20 or 30 years.”

NYMBUS, in contrast provides an advanced, core processing platform, SmartCore, with a wide variety of APIs, customizable UI, a conversion layer, and an ecosystem of banking apps. The platform keeps all critical banking functions in a single system with a single sign-on and data set. Home Credit International Group Head of Special Projects Miroslav Boublik called NYMBUS “best positioned to stand at the core” of the disruption of the traditional banking model today. “NYMBUS’ technology is both many years ahead of traditional banking system vendors and most viable among emerging (fintech) providers,” Boublik said.

Earlier this month we shared news of the company’s partnership with California’s Kaiperm Diablo FCU to deploy its core banking technology, SmartCore. Kaiperm Diablo’s announcement comes just a few months after Pennsylvania-based CHROME Federal Credit Union reported that it would use SmartCore as part of its goal of transitioning to a digital-first credit union. NYMBUS has also been an active acquirer, buying Sharp BancSystems, KMR, and R.C. Olmstead in the summer of 2016. Also a veteran of Finovate, the company demonstrated its technology at FinovateSpring 2016.

Nubank Raises $80 Million in Series D Funding

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Financial services innovator Nubank closed on $80 million in Series D funding led by DST Global earlier this month, marking DST’s first investment in a Brazilian company. Other participants in the round include Founders Fund, QED Investors, Redpoint, Ribbit Capital, Sequoia, and Tiger.

This is Nubank’s sixth round of funding and brings its total amount raised to $178 million. While there was no report of the company’s latest valuation, FT Partners reports that after its $52 million Series C round closed in January, Nubank was valued at $500 million. The company will use the funds to accelerate hiring efforts and expand its product offerings. Specifically, Nubank hopes to add a rewards program and add more credit products.


Founded in 2013, Nubank offers a Mastercard credit card with a companion mobile app that features PFM capabilities, spending alerts, and a card lock feature. The company has had success in differentiating itself from other financial institutions in Brazil, which offer credit cards with 400% APR. In comparison, Nubank’s APR comes in significantly lower at 145%. This differentiation has led to Nubank receiving 7 million applications for its card, which currently holds a waiting list of 500,000 applicants.


Nubank Co-Founder and CTO Edward Wible, along with Lucas Cavalcanti, Lead Software Engineer, showcased at FinDEVr New York 2016 (pictured above) in a presentation titled Our Money, Our Rulebook. which explored how Nubank deals with real-time, double-entry accounting on a per-customer basis. In October, H2 Ventures and KPMG listed Nubank among 50 leading fintech companies.

Personal Capital’s Growth Leads to Additional $25 Million in Funding

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Digital advisory service and wealth management firm Personal Capital is closing out 2016 by adding another $25 million to the $75 million in equity investment the company took home from IGM Financial in May. Today’s funding was part of a contingency from investor IGM Financial that stated Personal Capital had to reach a certain growth milestone by Q2 of 2017. Since the California-based company exceeded the specified growth target, the funds were distributed early, just in time for the new year. This closes Personal Capital’s Series E round, increases its 2016 funding to $100 million, and boosts its total funding to just over $175 million.

“IGM Financial has been a great investor,” said Bill Harris, CEO of Personal Capital. “Over the past six months, we’ve been able to grow marketing, staffing, and offerings to our users and clients. With the final $25 million in investment secured, we look forward to seeing even more growth as we help more families manage their financial lives.” The company used the initial $75 million to increase its marketing efforts and hire new staff across its offices in San Carlos, San Francisco, and Denver.


Above: Personal Capital’s Ravi Gundlapalli (Director of Engineering, Frontend) and Ehsan Lavassani (Founding Engineer and Chief Engineering Officer) presenting at FinDEVr Silicon Valley 2016

The new investment lifts Personal Capital’s valuation to around $500 million. That’s double what the company’s valuation was after its Series D funding round closed in 2014 and $200 million shy of competitors’ valuations. Betterment and Wealthfront (pure roboadvisory plays), as well as SigFig (a hybrid roboadvisor) each have valuations of $700 million.

In addition to the funding from IGM Financial, Personal Capital has received a $25 million line of credit from Silicon Valley Bank. With regard to the credit, Mike Armsby, CFO of Personal Capital says it will help the company “spur rapid growth in the New Year.”

Personal Capital delivers financial planning and investment portfolio management services. The company combines high tech with high touch by blending a non-biased, algorithmic investing approach and conversations with real, human advisors via video chat. Personal Capital has added $1.5 billion in AUM in 2016. This represents 80% growth in less than 12 months and brings the company’s total AUM to $3.4 billion. In addition, Personal Capital offers a free, account aggregation tool to help its 1.3 million registered users view all of their accounts in one place.

Personal Capital most recently presented at FinDEVr Silicon Valley 2016, where the company’s founding Engineer and Chief Engineering Officer, Ehsan Lavassani, talked about data-driven account opening. At FinovateSpring 2014, CEO Bill Harris and Chief Product Officer Jim Del Favero debuted One Click Investment Proposals.

New Investment in Avalara Takes Tax Management Innovator’s Total Funding to More than $300 Million

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[Originally published on] We’re busy working on next month’s FinDEVr Silicon Valley developer’s conference (tickets still available), so we were thrilled to hear news of a major investment in Avalara, one of our FinDEVr alums from last year’s event.

Avalara, an innovator in automated tax management for small businesses, raised $96 million in new funding from a group of investors including Warburg Pincus, Sageview Capital, and Technology Crossover Ventures this week. Moreover, the company hinted that it may be considering an initial public offering in the near future, as well.

Quoted in GeekWire, company CEO Scott McFarlane called the possible IPO a ‘terrific outcome for Avalara someday if all the cards came together.” Avalara will use $50 million of this week’s investment to support acquisitions and growth – particularly its Compliance Cloud platform. The balance will be used to buy back shares from the company’s early investors. “This financing offers some long-term individual shareholders a liquidity event, while enabling more recent institutional investors to increase their stake,” McFarlane said. Avalara’s total capital raised is more than $318 million.


Pictured: Loke Uei Tan discussing Avalara’s APIs during his presentation “The Wacky World of Sales Tax” at FinDEVr Silicon Valley 2015.

Justin Sadrian, managing partner at Warburg Pincus, called Avalara “the ideal platform company” his firm seeks for investment. Ned Gilhuly, founding partner at Sageview Capital, praised the automated tax management specialist’s revenue growth since he began investing in Avalara, adding “going forward, we are as bullish as ever on the company’s growth prospects.”

Founded in 2004 and headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Avalara presented “The Wacky World of Sales Tax” at FinDEVr Silicon Valley 2015. Senior Manager for Developer Relations Loke Uei Tan showed how APIs help developers solve the problem of delivering accurate transitional taxes information from more than 12,000 tax jurisdictions in the U.S.

Last month, Avalara added a number of new enhancements to its compliance document management solution, CertCapture. In June, Avalara announced both a new integration with Stripe as well as earning recognition at the American Business Awards. Avalara calculates $100 million in taxes daily, and remitted $14.4 billion in taxes in 2015.

StockTwits Has a Big Week: New Funding, New CEO

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StockTwits, a social network for stock market investing, returned from the U.S. 4th of July holiday with a double bang. The San Diego-based company today announced it not only closed on new funding, but also appointed a new CEO.

The $2 million funding round was led by Social Leverage and brings the company’s total to $13 million. StockTwits will use the funds to boost engagement by adding premium features and content such as video to help engage users. IanRosenThe company counts 1.5 million active users each month, 60% of which are under the age of 44.

Driving this change is Ian Rosen (pictured right), who has been appointed CEO of StockTwits effective July 6. Rosen served as an advisor to the company since 2013 and is taking the seat of Howard Lindzon who founded StockTwits in 2008. Lindzon has filled the role of executive chairman. Rosen most recently served as CEO of Even Financial, a supply side platform for online lending. Prior to that he was general manager of financial media business MarketWatch.


At FinDEVr San Francisco 2014, Lindzon showed off the company’s API that provides financial institutions real-time data on stock market sentiment. The company plans to further leverage and grow how it uses this data. Speaking to TechCrunch, Lindzon said, “data business is doubling this year and we are focused on widening the top of the brand funnel with some new ideas.”

In addition to its FinDEVr presentation, StockTwits has also presented at FinovateEurope 2011 where it debuted its blog network and StockTwits Connect. The company is the inventor of the CashTag, a method of linking a company stock to a feed using a dollar sign, for example $AAPL.

GiftBit, Formerly Kiind, Raises Funds from Founder’s Co-op


GiftBit, which demoed at FinDEVr 2014 as Kiind and renamed itself in January 2015, has raised an undisclosed amount courtesy of an investment from Founder’s Co-op.

Announcing the investment at the Founders’ Co-op blog, Chris DeVore called GiftBit “a super-fun investment to be able to announce” and added that DeVore and his team had been interested  in investing in the company since it participated in the Techstars Seattle 2015 accelerator (which is run by Founders’ Co-op). “We knew we wanted to invest almost from the moment Giftbit arrived in (our) program.”


Pictured: Leif Baradoy, GiftBit CEO and founder, presenting “Making Gifting Easy” at FinDEVr 2014 in San Francisco.

Giftbit is a digital gift card platform that works both online and via an API to provide gift cards from a wide variety of retailers.  Manually select or import names and addresses of recipients, customize the reward or incentive with your own branding and messaging, and then schedule your cards for delivery. The Giftbit platform enables the sender to track e-mail delivery, as well as open and gift-claimed rates. Importantly, Giftbit “regifts” unused rewards and incentives, crediting the card sender’s account.

Since the company’s rebrand as Giftbit (“Giftbit better describes our service: digital gifts,” company CEO and founder Leif Baradoy wrote.), the company has been busy forging technology partnerships such as the deal last spring with Passenger, an online communication technology company. Giftbit’s Rewards Platform was integrated into Passenger’s FUEL Community Engine. GeekWire profiled Giftbit last October in its Startup Spotlight – the same month the company participated in Techstars Seattle Demo Day – and last December, the company was highlighted in Programmable Web’s Daily API RoundUp.

GiftBit is headquartered in the Pacific Northwest. As Kiind, the company presented its APIs that made gifting easy at FinDEVr 2014 in San Francisco.


Blockchain Dev Platform Stratumn Lands $670,000 in Seed Investment


France-based blockchain development platform, Stratumn followed its FinDEVr New York debut last month with news of a £600,000 ($670,000 USD) investment. Led by Otium Venture, the seed round also featured participation from Ledger CEO, Eric Larchevêque, who said Stratumn’s platform would “open up many opportunities for enterprise business process management.”

The fresh capital will be used to increase headcount to 12 employees, as well as finish work on its open standard technology, Chainscript, that builds audit chains for workflows. The funds will also help the company complete its blockchain notary solution, “Fossilizer.” The investment also represents the first successful French fundraising for a bitcoin company.


Pictured: Stratumn CEO Richard Caetano presenting his Chainscript technology and the Stratumn Blockchain Development Platform at FinDEVr New York.

Stratum’s platform enables developers to write, execute, and test complex workflows and business processes using the blockchain, and then provides them with the infrastructure and tools they need to deploy and run these applications. Stratum uses Chainscript, an open JSON specification, to describe each step of the process and provide cryptographically verification. The platform also provides “proof-of-existence” of critical data, notarizing it in the blockchain.

Founded in 2015 and headquartered in Paris, Stratumn made its FinDEVr debut at our New York conference in March. CEO Richard Caetano discussed “Building and Securing Smart Workflow Using Chainscript and the Stratumn Blockchain Development Platform.”

Bluefin Payment Systems Raises $6 Million in Growth Equity Financing


In round led by Napier Park Global Capital and Camden Partners, Bluefin Payment Systems has raised $6 million in growth equity funding.

Calling Bluefin’s technology “the future of safeguarding cardholder data,” Manu S. Rana, Managing Director at Napier Park pointed to opportunities to deploy Bluefin’s solutions in a number of verticals. “Data breaches impacting payment transactions show no signs of slowing down,” Rana said. “Particularly among retail, healthcare, and education enterprises.”


Pictured (left to right): Bluefin Chief of Product Innovation, Ruston Miles, and Chief of Technology, Tim Barnett demonstrating Bluefin’s point-to-point encryption technology at FinDEVr San Francisco 2014.

Bluefin Payment Systems is a specialist in point-to-point encryption (P2PE) for both integrated and stand-alone solutions. The company’s technology has been deployed in call center, kiosk, and mobile environments and has been applied to verticals in education, healthcare, and retail. The first  P2PE provider to become PCI-validated (March 2014), Bluefin encrypts cardholder data on PCI P2PE compliant devices, keeping it from being reachable in a system or network should there be a data breach.

Bluefin CEO John M. Perry credited his company’s investments in products and technology for the company’s growth. “We are providing PCI-validated P2PE to large companies and universities through our gateway while continuing to grow our list of compatible P2PE devices,” Perry said. “There is a tremendous market need for PCI-validated P2PE across every size of business and every vertical.”

In February, partner USAePay deployed Bluefin’s decryption-as-a-service solution, Decryptx to bring point-to-point encryption to merchants like 3DRetro. And in January, Bluefin announced a new partnership with CDE, an audited encryption service organization. This added CDE to Bluefin’s roster of P2PE Key Injection Facilities for PCI-validated P2PE devices, helping Bluefin’s customers and partners adopt the technology. Bluefin added former GlobalCollect CFO, Huib Dekker as its new Chief Financial Officer last December, a few months after Bluefin announced opening a new office in Ireland.

Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Bluefin demonstrated its point-to-point encryption technology at FinDEVr San Francisco 2014.