Ready, Set, AI


Jun 05, 2023


Cindy Grazer


Jun 05, 2023


Cindy Grazer


“A race starts today. We’re going to move, and move fast,” - Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. The AI frenzy has no doubt unfolded in Silicon Valley in just a matter of weeks. Microsoft and Google have shifted their entire corporate strategies around seizing this opportunity. Billions of dollars in investments - into what many believe will become the new infrastructure layer of the economy - are now bearing fruit.

But the frenzy is not just confined to Silicon Valley. Wall Street has responded with the same level of enthusiasm, where 40% of open job roles today stand to be AI-related. JP Morgan leads the charge, having advertised close to 3,700 AI roles in the last 3 months, doubling their closest rivals at Citigroup. The firm also ranked first place across the new Evident AI Index (the first public benchmark for major banks on their AI maturity). AI’s use cases in banking range from tailoring clients’ financial instruments to interpreting the direction of monetary policy by the Federal Reserve.

But many questions still loom large: For one, will AI be as market-shaking in its promise to change the world when the music stops? While we may very well be in the midst of a “bubble”, the breakneck adoption of generative AI indicates that many are betting the technology will allow them to gain a definitive edge over rivals. As those use cases continue to be tested and proved out, one thing stands clear: those that don’t have a penchant for exploring emerging technologies may very well be left behind, while others race ahead (and some others get too carried away).

Newsletter Image 6/5/2023

Portfolio News

B2B marketplaces: the next wave - In 2022 we invested in Sabi, a Nigerian B2B marketplace. Since then, the company has maintained a laser focus on unit economics while building its digital commerce infrastructure for the informal economy, reaching more than $1b in GMV – the first on the continent to hit this milestone. All of these factors contributed to the success of the recently announced Series B raise. Read more

Carlos Alonso Torras on Partner Path podcast - Partner Path is a podcast that dives into the venture capital and growth equity ecosystem through a younger perspective. In this episode, Carlos explores FTC's reasoning behind its investment in Mattilda, a very fast growing early stage business in LatAm. Read more

How a $13b fintech startup that angered Jamie Dimon won over banks - Over the past decade, Plaid’s digital pipes have enabled 1 in every 3 people with a US bank account to connect it to the app or service of their choosing. What’s next for Zach Perret’s $13.4b company? Read more

Deloitte and Simetrik join forces - Simetrik announced its entry into Deloitte's LetStartup program in the Process Automation category as one of the twelve winners selected from among 60 nominated companies. This strategic alliance marks a significant milestone in Simetrik's growth throughout the financial services market in Latin America. Read more

CapIntel is an industry leader in digitally-enabled proposal generation for financial advisors - CapIntel springboards off of its success in Canada to significantly expand throughout the US, especially as financial advisors are facing increased demand among prospective clients for customized proposals that can deliver insightful perspectives on investment management during a volatile market environment. Read more

Embroker launches new excess tech E&O cyber product - Embroker this week introduced its new malpractice and cyber bundle for law firms. This bundle - its first vertical offering built on the new ONE by Embroker platform - allows law firms to get the right malpractice and cyber coverage, built based on their needs, in a transparent and efficient manner. Read more

Ready, Set, AI

Wall Street banks are using AI to rewire the world of finance - The AI revolution is unfolding on Wall Street as wider interest grows in the evolving technology and its likely impact on business. At the most enthusiastic banks, about 40% of all open job roles are for AI-related hires such as data engineers and quants, as well as ethics and governance roles. Read more

Investors turn to AI-guided dealmaking to gain edge over rivals - Venture capital funds, private equity groups and accountancy firms are using the latest artificial intelligence to pick acquisition targets and start-ups for investment, betting the technology can give them an edge over rivals. Read more

ChatGPT to fuel $1.3t AI market by 2032, new report says - The sector could expand at a rate of 42% over ten years — driven first by the demand for infrastructure necessary to train AI systems and then the ensuing devices that use AI models, advertising and other services, according to a new report by Bloomberg Intelligence. Read more

A majority of Americans have heard of ChatGPT, but few have tried it themselves - Overall, 18% of U.S. adults have heard a lot about ChatGPT, while 39% have heard a little and 42% have heard nothing at all. Additionally, how ChatGPT should be used has been hotly contested. Some people see it as a useful tool for educational and work purposes, while others feel it should only be used for entertainment. Read more

Industry News

JPMorgan builds unit for world’s richest families in wealth bet - Created just before the pandemic, the unit is called 23 Wall, and is led by JPMorgan veteran Andy Cohen. It focuses on about 700 families worth more than $4.5t, according to Cohen, and now includes about three dozen people in the US, Asia and Europe and works closely with the New York-based firm’s investment and private banks. Read more

The writer behind ‘Love Actually’ wants to green your retirement fund - Globally, some $50t in assets are currently held in retirement plans, money that pension funds are tasked with growing. As it stands, a large chunk of that money ends up invested in companies that produce or are associated with the production of fossil fuels. Richard Curtis wants that to change. Read more

Wall Street prepares to take on established crypto companies - Some of the finance industry’s best-known names are building their own digital markets trading platforms, betting that fund managers will prefer familiar and trusted brands to the opaque cryptocurrency exchanges that dominate the sector. Read more

Klarna’s losses halve as Swedish fintech predicts return to profit - Once Europe’s most valuable private tech company, Klarna said on Friday that its net losses narrowed to SKr1.3b ($120m) in the quarter while credit losses shrank more than a third. Its revenues rose 13% to SKr4.9b. Read more

Gemini, Genesis want SEC complaint dismissed - The SEC in January charged Genesis and Gemini with selling unregistered securities, pointing to the contract called a Master Digital Loan Agreement struck among lender Genesis, Gemini and customers in its yield-bearing Earn program. Read more

Worldpay and Affirm team to let shoppers buy now, pay later - The multi-year collaboration, announced this week, makes Affirm’s Adaptive Checkout offering available to eligible Worldpay merchants, letting them offer consumers bi-weekly and monthly payment options. Read more

PayPal enables crypto transfers - Venmo-ing crypto is already here — the latest development in PayPal's nearly one-year-old service enabling on-chain transfers. It's an incremental advance in the payment giant's vision of a more cashless future, including solving what it sees as some of the roadblocks keeping crypto from playing a more significant role in payments. Read more

British digital bank Monzo hits monthly profitability - Monzo reported net operating income of £214.5m in the year ending February 2023, almost doubling its results year-over-year. One of the most prominent U.K. digital banks, Monzo managed to reach profitability in the first two months of the year. Read more

India’s UPI real-time payments system tops 9b monthly transactions - The real-time payments system’s transaction count hit 9.41b in May, up 58% year over year, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) said this week. The explosive growth of India’s UPI may chart the path for real-time payments in the United States as the Federal Reserve progresses on its own real-time payments journey. Read more

Fintech giant Stripe is getting into the credit game - Previously, Stripe-issued cards could only be used to spend money from a prefunded account. Its expansion into charge cards will give companies the ability to create and distribute virtual or physical charge cards that allow their customers to spend on credit rather than using the funds in their accounts. Read more

Select Financings

Boom - New York based rent reporting platform raised $4.5m in Seed funding led by Starting Line. Read more

Capillary Technologies - India based loyalty management and customer engagement SaaS raised $45m in Series B funding led by Avataar Ventures. Read more

CUR8 - UK based market making platform for carbon removals raised £5.3m in pre-Seed funding led by Google Ventures. Read more

Fabrick - Italy based embedded finance startup raised €40m in new funding led by Mastercard. Read more

Holdings - San Francisco based startup aimed at helping businesses diversify their cash raised $7m in Seed funding led by Album VC. Read more

Hostaway - Toronto based maker of vacation rental management software raised $175m in growth funding led by PSG Equity. Read more

HostGPO - L.A. based group purchasing platform for vacation property hosts raised $6m in new funding led by Navitas Capital. Read more

Klearly - Netherlands based app for SMEs to receive payments directly on their phones raised €2.1m in pre-Seed funding led by Antler and Global PayTech Ventures. Read more

Magic - San Francisco based wallet-as-a-service provider raised $52m in new funding led by PayPal Ventures. Read more

Measurabl - San Diego based provider of real estate portfolio management software raised $93m in Series D funding led by Energy Impact Partners. Read more

NomuPay - Ireland based payments business formed from the pieces of Wirecard raised $53.6m in Series A funding led by Finch Capital. Read more

Qflow - London based environmental management platform for construction raised £7.2m in Series A funding led by Systemiq Capital. Read more

RealBlocks - New York based alternative investment platform raised $10m in Series A funding led by Crosslink Capital and Left Lane Capital. Read more

Transak - New York based web3 payments startup raised $20m in Series A funding led by CE Innovation Capital. Read more

Vartana - San Francisco based B2B sales closing and financing startup raised $20m in Series B funding led by Activant Capital. Read more

Vault - Canada based online bank for SMBs raised $3.7m in Seed funding led by Gradient Ventures and Fin Capital. Read more

XFlow - India based cross-border payments startup raised $10.2m in pre-Series A funding led by Square Peg. Read more


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