In an internal memo, Solomon said he wanted executives to be closer to the “Sky Lobby,” which is a center of collaboration at the company with couches, a cafeteria, and a gym.
“The Sky Lobby was specifically designed to be the hub of this office,” Solomon wrote in the memo, the Post reported. “There is a natural ‘buzz’ there, and I want our leadership team to be part of it.”
However, sources told the Post that company executives are still distanced from everyday employees by a spiral staircase, and that the executives typically work from the executives’ individual conference rooms. An anonymous source also told the Post that there wasn’t enthusiastic support for the move.
The company did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Though the move was announced in December 2019, it wasn’t implemented until this summer due to pandemic-related lockdowns.
Crypto companies have a growing responsibility to help prevent ransomware payments and sanction evaders, the Treasury said in a statement on Friday.
Ransomware payments have surged in 2021 as cyber criminals take company data hostage and demand payment in the form of cryptocurrencies to unlock it. This makes payments both harder to trace and easier to make for companies looking to get their data back quickly.
Suspected ransomware payments hit $590 million in the first six months of the year, well above the $416 million paid in all of 2020, according to the Treasury department.
“The virtual currency industry, including technology companies, exchangers, administrators, miners, wallet providers, and users, plays an increasingly critical role in preventing sanctioned persons from exploiting virtual currencies to evade sanctions and undermine U.S. foreign policy and national security interests,” the Treasury said in a statement.
This is the Treasury department’s first overt outreach to the crypto industry to help in preventing US sanction evaders and criminal activity that is enabled by cryptocurrencies, such as ransomware payments.
“Treasury is helping to stop ransomware attacks by making it difficult for criminals to profit from their crimes, but we need partners in the private sector to help prevent this illicit activity,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said.
NuCypher, a little-known altcoin that bills itself as a decentralized threshold cryptography network, soared as much as 1,134% on Friday.
The surge catapulted NuCypher’s market valuation to more than $2 billion from about $200 million as one-day volume exploded 18,266% higher, according to data from CoinMarketCap. The altcoin hit a high of $3.58 before paring its gains by about 50% to $1.80.
While NuCypher celebrated its one-year anniversary on Friday, there was no clear indication as to what developments drove such a sharp surge in demand for the altcoin, which is now the 79th largest cryptocurrency by market value.
“One year ago today the NuCypher network launched. Since then, thousands of stakes and dozens of dapp developers have discovered threshold cryptography,” NuCypher’s Twitter profile said Friday morning.
NuCypher has 687.5 million coins in circulation and a max supply of 3.9 billion coins. NuCypher, which is built on the ethereum network, serves as an encryption service for public blockchains and offers end-to-end encrypted data sharing on public blockchains and decentralized storage solutions.
NuCypher’s white paper was first published in 2017, and the altcoin began trading on October 15, 2020, at a price of $0.23 and a market valuation of $2.4 million.
The state-run People’s Daily newspaper said Chinese online brokerages could face violations and compliance risks once a new data privacy law takes effect on November 1, according to Reuters. They give Chinese investors access to securities that trade in other markets like the US and Hong Kong.
The new data privacy rule will regulate the export of personal information, which would make compliance difficult for online brokerage firms that offer cross-border trading services.
Shares of UP Fintech and Futu Holdings fell as much as 24% and 15%, respectively, in Thursday trades. These Chinese brokerages don’t have licenses in mainland China, but allow Chinese citizens to open up accounts after submitting personal information derived from IDs, tax records, and bank statements.
The People’s Daily asked, “after personal information is collected, where does it go?”
If brokerage firms are unable to comply or adapt to the new privacy data law taking effect next month, they could be forced to cut off mainland Chinese investors’ access to trading US and other foreign stocks.
Fintech VC funding hit a fresh quarterly record of $22.8 billion in the first three months of 2021, according to CB Insights data. While mega-rounds helped propel overall funding, new cash was spread across 614 deals.
Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech.
Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders are selling their vision and nabbing big bucks in the process. You’ll see new financial tech geared at freelancers, fresh twists on digital banking, and innovation aimed at streamlining customer onboarding.
Quantum computing made easy
Even though banks and hedge funds are still several years out from adding quantum computing to their tech arsenals, that hasn’t stopped Wall Street giants from investing time and money into the emerging technology class.
And momentum for QC Ware, a startup looking to cut the time and resources it takes to use quantum computing, is accelerating. The fintech secured a $25 million Series B on September 29 co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Covestro with participation from D.E. Shaw, Citi, and Samsung Ventures.
Quantum computing allows companies to do complex calculations faster than traditional computers by using a form of physics that runs on quantum bits as opposed to the traditional 1s and 0s that computers use. This is especially helpful in banking for risk analytics or algorithmic trading, where executing calculations milliseconds faster than the competition can give firms a leg up.
A fintech that helps financial institutions use quantitative models to streamline their businesses and improve risk management is catching the attention, and capital, of some of the country’s biggest investment managers.
Beacon Platform, founded in 2014, is a fintech that builds applications and tools to help banks, asset managers, and trading firms quickly integrate quantitative models that can help with analyzing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving operational efficiency. The company raised its Series C on Wednesday, scoring a $56 million investment led by Warburg Pincus with support from Blackstone Innovations Investments, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic.
Blackstone, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic are also users of Beacon’s tech, as are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Shell New Energies, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, among others.
The fintech provides a shortcut for firms looking to use quantitative modelling and data science across various aspects of their businesses, a process that can often take considerable resources if done solo.
About a decade ago, politician Stacey Abrams and entrepreneur Lara Hodgson were forced to fold their startup because of a kink in the supply chain – but not in the traditional sense.
Nourish, which made spill-proof bottled water for children, had grown quickly from selling to small retailers to national ones. And while that may sound like a feather in the small business’ cap, there was a hang-up.
“It was taking longer and longer to get paid, and as you can imagine, you deliver the product and then you wait and you wait, but meanwhile you have to pay your employees and you have to pay your vendors,” Hodgson told Insider. “Waiting to get paid was constraining our ability to grow.”
While it’s not unusual for small businesses to grapple with working capital issues, the dust was still settling from the Great Recession. Abrams and Hodgson couldn’t secure a line of credit or use financing tools like factoring to solve their problem.
The two entrepreneurs were forced to close Nourish in 2012, but along the way they recognized a disconnect in the system.
“Why are we the ones borrowing money, when in fact we’re the lender here because every time you send an invoice to a customer, you’ve essentially extended a free loan to that customer by letting them pay later,” Hodgson said. “And the only reason why we were going to need to possibly borrow money was because we had just given ours away for free to Whole Foods,” she added.
Fintechs looking to transform how insurance policies are underwritten, issued, and experienced by customers have grown as new technology driven by digital trends and artificial intelligence shape the market.
And while verticals like auto, homeowner’s, and renter’s insurance have seen their fair share of innovation from forward-thinking fintechs, one company has taken on the massive life-insurance market.
Founded in 2017, Ladder uses a tech-driven approach to offer life insurance with a digital, end-to-end service that it says is more flexible, faster, and cost-effective than incumbent players.
An alternative auto lender that caters to thin- and no-credit Hispanic borrowers is planning a national expansion after scoring a $90 million investment from BlackRock-managed funds.
Tricolor is a Dallas-based auto lender that is a community development financial institution. It uses a proprietary artificial-intelligence engine that decisions each customer based on more than 100 data points, such as proof of income.
Half of Tricolor’s customers have a FICO score, and less than 12% have scores above 650, yet the average customer has lived in the US for 15 years, according to the deck.
“For decades, the deck has been stacked against low income or credit invisible Hispanics in the United States when it comes to the purchase and financing of a used vehicle,” Daniel Chu, founder and CEO of Tricolor, said in a statement announcing the raise.
Kristy Kim knows first-hand the challenge of obtaining credit in the US without an established credit history.
Kim, who came to the US from South Korea, couldn’t initially get access to credit despite having a job in investment banking after graduating college.
“I was in my early twenties, I had a good income, my job was in investment banking but I could not get approved for anything,” Kim told Insider. “Many young professionals like me, we deserve an opportunity to be considered but just because we didn’t have a Fico, we weren’t given a chance to even apply,” she added.
Kim started TomoCredit in 2018 to help others like herself gain access to consumer credit. TomoCredit spent three years building an internal algorithm to underwrite customers based on cash flow, rather than a credit score.
Fintech startup Rocket Dollar, which helps users invest their individual retirement account (IRA) dollars into alternative assets, just raised $8 million for its Series A round, the company announced on Thursday.
Park West Asset Management led the round, with participation from investors including Hyphen Capital, which focuses on backing Asian American entrepreneurs, and crypto exchange Kraken’s venture arm.
Co-founded in 2018 by CEO Henry Yoshida, CTO Rick Dude, and VP of marketing Thomas Young, Rocket Dollar now has over $350 million in assets under management on its platform. Yoshida sold his first startup, a roboadvisor called Honest Dollar, to Goldman Sachs’ investment management division for an estimated $20 million.
Yoshida told Insider that while ultra-high net worth investors have been investing self-directed retirement account dollars into alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and cryptocurrency, average investors have not historically been able to access the same opportunities to invest IRA dollars in alternative assets through traditional platforms.
For six years, Silverberg was a venture capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Private Credit Investments making bets on startups.
“I was meeting with thousands of founders in person each year, watching them one at a time go through this friction where they’re meeting a ton of investors, and the investors are all asking the same questions,” Silverberg told Insider.
He switched gears about three years ago, moving to the opposite side of the metaphorical table, to start Hum Capital, which uses artificial intelligence to match investors with startups looking to fundraise.
On August 31, the New York-based fintech announced its $9 million Series A. The round was led by Future Ventures with participation from Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech.
Three years ago, Patricia Montesi realized there was a disconnect in the payments world.
“A lot of new economy companies or fintech companies were looking to mesh up a lot of payment modalities that they weren’t able to,” Montesi, CEO and co-founder of Qolo, told Insider.
Integrating various payment capabilities often meant tapping several different providers that had specializations in one product or service, she added, like debit card issuance or cross-border payments.
“The way people were getting around that was that they were creating this spider web of fintech,” she said, adding that “at the end of it all, they had this mess of suppliers and integrations and bank accounts.”
The 20-year payments veteran rounded up a group of three other co-founders – who together had more than a century of combined industry experience – to start Qolo, a business-to-business fintech that sought out to bundle back-end payment rails for other fintechs.
The way people work has fundamentally changed over the past year, with more flexibility and many workers opting to freelance to maintain their work-from-home lifestyles.
But managing a freelance or contractor workforce is often an administrative headache for employers. Worksome is a startup looking to eliminate all the extra work required for employers to adapt to more flexible working norms.
Worksome started as a freelancer marketplace automating the process of matching qualified workers with the right jobs. But the team ultimately pivoted to a full suite of workforce management software, automating administrative burdens required to hire, pay, and account for contract workers.
In May, Worksome closed a $13 million Series A backed by European angel investor Tommy Ahlers and Danish firm Lind & Risør.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the growing preference of mobile banking as customers get comfortable managing their finances online.
The financial app Albert has seen a similar jump in activity. Currently counting more than six million members, deposits in Albert’s savings offering doubled from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to May of this year, from $350 million to $700 million, according to new numbers released by the company.
Founded in 2015, Albert offers automated budgeting and savings tools alongside guided investment portfolios. It’s looked to differentiate itself through personalized features, like the ability for customers to text human financial experts.
Budgeting and saving features are free on Albert. But for more tailored financial advice, customers pay a subscription fee that’s a pay-what-you-can model, between $4 and $14 a month.
And Albert’s now banking on a new tool to bring together its investing, savings, and budgeting tools.
For lenders, debt collection is largely automated. But for people who owe money on their credit cards, it can be a confusing and stressful process.
Relief is looking to change that. Its app automates the credit-card debt collection process for users, negotiating with lenders and collectors to settle outstanding balances on their behalf. The fintech just launched and closed a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Ventures.
Relief’s fundraising experience was a bit different to most. Its pitch deck, which it shared with one investor via Google Slides, went viral. It set out to raise a $1 million seed round, but ended up doubling that and giving some investors money back to make room for others.
Securitize, founded in 2017 by the tech industry veterans Carlos Domingo and Jamie Finn, is bringing blockchain technology to private-markets investing. The company raised $48 million in Series B funding on June 21 from investors including Morgan Stanley and Blockchain Capital.
Securitize helps companies crowdfund capital from individual and institutional investors by issuing their shares in the form of blockchain tokens that allow for more efficient settlement, record keeping, and compliance processes. Morgan Stanley’s Tactical Value fund, which invests in private companies, made its first blockchain-technology investment when it coled the Series B, Securitize CEO Carlos Domingo told Insider.
Business banking is a hot market in fintech. And it seems investors can’t get enough.
Novo, the digital banking fintech aimed at small e-commerce businesses, raised a $40.7 million Series A led by Valar Ventures in June. Since its launch in 2018, Novo has signed up 100,000 small businesses. Beyond bank accounts, it offers expense management, a corporate card, and integrates with e-commerce infrastructure players like Shopify, Stripe, and Wise.
Founded in 2018, Novo was based in New York City, but has since moved its headquarters to Miami.
A blockchain-based fintech startup that is aiming to disrupt the traditional model of evaluating peoples’ creditworthiness recently raised $30 million in a Series B funding led by credit reporting giant TransUnion.
Four-year-old Spring Labs aims to create a private, secure data-sharing model to help credit agencies better predict the creditworthiness of people who are not in the traditional credit bureau system. The founding team of three fintech veterans met as early employees of lending startup Avant.
Existing investors GreatPoint Ventures and August Capital also joined in on the most recent round. So far Spring Labs has raised $53 million from institutional rounds.
TransUnion, a publicly-traded company with a $20 billion-plus market cap, is one of the three largest consumer credit agencies in the US. After 18 months of dialogue and six months of due diligence, TransAmerica and Spring Labs inked a deal, Spring Labs CEO and cofounder Adam Jiwan told Insider.
Lance is a new digital bank hoping to simplify the life of those workers by offering what it calls an “active” approach to business banking.
“We found that every time we sat down with the existing tools and resources of our accountants and QuickBooks and spreadsheets, we just ended up getting tangled up in the whole experience of it,” Lance cofounder and CEO Oona Rokyta told Insider.
Lance offers subaccounts for personal salaries, withholdings, and savings to which freelancers can automatically allocate funds according to custom preset levels. It also offers an expense balance that’s connected to automated tax withholdings.
In May, Lance announced the closing of a $2.8 million seed round that saw participation from Barclays, BDMI, Great Oaks Capital, Imagination Capital, Techstars, DFJ Frontier, and others.
Jason Wenk started his career at Morgan Stanley in investment research over 20 years ago. Now, he’s running a company that is hoping to broaden access to financial advice for less-wealthy individuals.
The startup raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners with participation from investors Vanguard and Venrock. The round brings the Los Angeles-based startup’s total funding to just under $67 million.
Founded in 2018, Altruist is a digital brokerage built for independent financial advisors, intended to be an “all-in-one” platform that unites custodial functions, portfolio accounting, and a client-facing portal. It allows advisors to open accounts, invest, build models, report, trade (including fractional shares), and bill clients through an interface that can advisors time by eliminating mundane operational tasks.
Altruist aims to make personalized financial advice less expensive, more efficient, and more inclusive through the platform, which is designed for registered investment advisors (RIAs), a growing segment of the wealth management industry.
Durable Capital Partners led the Series D funding with other new investors including renowned hedge fund Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, and 01 Advisors. Citi Ventures, Citigroup’s startup investment arm that also backs fintech robo-advisorBetterment, participated as an existing investor in the round alongside Norwest Venture partners. The latest round brings the company’s fundraising total to $227 million to date.
Onboarding new customers with ease is key for any financial institution or retailer. The more friction you add, the more likely consumers are to abandon the entire process.
But preventing fraud is also a priority, and that’s where Neuro-ID comes in. The startup analyzes what it calls “digital body language,” or, the way users scroll, type, and tap. Using that data, Neuro-ID can identify fraudulent users before they create an account. It’s built for banks, lenders, insurers, and e-commerce players.
“The train has left the station for digital transformation, but there’s a massive opportunity to try to replicate all those communications that we used to have when we did business in-person, all those tells that we would get verbally and non-verbally on whether or not someone was trustworthy,” Neuro-ID CEO Jack Alton told Insider.
Founded in 2014, the startup’s pitch is twofold: Neuro-ID can save companies money by identifying fraud early, and help increase user conversion by making the onboarding process more seamless.
In December Neuro-ID closed a $7 million Series A, co-led by Fin VC and TTV Capital, with participation from Canapi Ventures. With 30 employees, Neuro-ID is using the fresh funding to grow its team and create additional tools to be more self-serving for customers.
Marketplaces like Amazon and eBay host millions of third-party sellers, and their algorithms will often boost items in search based on consumer sentiment, which is largely based on reviews. But many third-party sellers use fake reviews often bought from click farms to boost their items, some of which are counterfeit or misrepresented to consumers.
That’s where Fakespot comes in. With its Chrome extension, it warns users of sellers using potentially fake reviews to boost sales and can identify fraudulent sellers. Fakespot is currently compatible with Amazon, BestBuy, eBay, Sephora, Steam, and Walmart.
“There are promotional reviews written by humans and bot-generated reviews written by robots or review farms,” Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah told Insider. “Our AI system has been built to detect both categories with very high accuracy.”
Fakespot’s AI learns via reviews data available on marketplace websites, and uses natural-language processing to identify if reviews are genuine. Fakespot also looks at things like whether the number of positive reviews are plausible given how long a seller has been active.
Consumers are getting used to the idea of branch-less banking, a trend that startup digital-only banks like Chime, N26, and Varo have benefited from.
The majority of these fintechs target those who are underbanked, and rely on usage of their debit cards to make money off interchange. But fellow startup HMBradley has a different business model.
“Our thesis going in was that we don’t swipe our debit cards all that often, and we don’t think the customer base that we’re focusing on does either,” Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley, told Insider. “A lot of our customer base uses credit cards on a daily basis.”
Instead, the startup is aiming to build clientele with stable deposits. As a result, the bank is offering interest-rate tiers depending on how much a customer saves of their direct deposit.
Notably, the rate tiers are dependent on the percentage of savings, not the net amount.
“We’ll pay you more when you save more of what comes in,” Bruhnke said. “We didn’t want to segment customers by how much money they had. So it was always going to be about a percentage of income. That was really important to us.”
Buy-side firms are increasingly looking to migrate workloads to the public cloud.
Some view the move as a recruiting tool, while others hope to cut costs and increase compute power.
Here’s an inside look at six firms’ strategies when it comes to the public cloud.
The buy side is aiming for the clouds.
Top hedge funds, investment firms, and private-equity shops are turning to public clouds managed by Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and IBM.
Specific motivating factors for the switch varies at individual firms, but a common theme among nearly all of them is the realization that the public cloud is a more cost-effective option than physical data centers.
Insider spoke to tech executives at the top firms on the buy side to understand their cloud strategy. Here’s how they’re approaching the tech migration, and the benefits they’re already realizing from the move.
Moving workloads and data to the public cloud is a big tech lift for any firm. But for $137 billion quantitative investment manager AQR, it was a welcome one.
Quantitative research is the bread and butter of AQR, a value-oriented investment manager that typically takes a longer-term view on its portfolio. As with other quantitative funds, that means access to readily-available financial and economic data – and lots of it – is paramount.
As firms across Wall Street embrace public and hybrid cloud strategies to boost their tech prowess, one private investing giant is looking to Amazon Web Services.
John Stecher, Blackstone’s chief technology officer, told Insider the private-equity giant is in the midst of a “firm-wide initiative” to migrate much of Blackstone’s technology operations to Amazon Web Service’s public cloud by roughly the end of this year.
“We want to be able to use best-of-breed hardware and software programming models that AWS gives you to be able to deliver features and function at the speed that the business needs and that our engineers are truly capable of,” Stecher told Insider.
There’s big cloud-migration projects, and then there’s Citco.
The fund administration giant, with $1.6 trillion in assets under administration, took 18 months to migrate $1 trillion of those assets – from more than 550 hedge funds and other clients that total 10,000 accounts – from physical data centers to the cloud.
Hosted on Amazon Web Services, these accounts now have a more streamlined administration of their portfolios, and access to different tools Citco has built out on the cloud, such as a software-as-a-service tool that helps managers with Treasury functions.
As the war for talent rages among hedge funds, one firm is using technology as a key value prop for recruitment and retention.
Millennium Management, the New York-based hedge fund founded by billionaire Israel Englander with $52.3 billion of assets under management, is investing in cloud technology to stand out among hedge funds.
Michael Brams joined the firm in 2016 to help build out Millennium’s cloud capabilities. The first production use case, a large-scale data analytics tool set for compliance, went live in late 2017.
The firm saw how much faster its employees could test new tools and datasets using the cloud, which led it to invest more in the tech.
Point72 is in the midst of a sweeping, multi-year overhaul to transform the $21.8 billion hedge fund into a cloud-first operation.
The five-year project, which is slated to wrap at the end of 2024, is aimed at migrating 70% to 80% of the hedge fund’s cloud-eligible applications to the new tech. Currently, 20% of this work has been completed.
The $21.8 billion fund is also re-architecting its entire tech stack; building out a team of at least 60 cloud engineers, infrastructure coders, and application developers; and solidifying a hybrid, multi-cloud strategy, Mark Brubaker, the chief technology officer, told Insider.
Two Sigma had a big problem in 2014: the compute power needed for the quantitative fund’s research workflows was 10 times greater than what its data centers could provide.
“We said, ‘You know what, we’re not going to build out a 10x physical presence. That’s just enormous, that feels wrong to us,” Camille Fournier, Two Sigma’s head of platform engineering, told Insider.
As a quantitative fund, the problem was particularly salient for Two Sigma. Quant funds rely on mathematical and computer-based modeling to make their bets in the market, meaning their demand for computer firepower can often be enormous. Two Sigma, founded by billionaires John Overdeck and David Siegel, is known for pushing the limit on computing and data usage, even amongst its fellow quant peers.
Instead of building more physical data centers, the decision was made to push the fund into the public cloud.
Bank of America reported third-quarter earnings Thursday that blew past analyst expectations, with a rise in profit driven by record advisory fees and a strong performance from its investment banking business.
The US lender released $1.1 billion in reserves and booked an income tax benefit of $624 million, which helped lift its results.
Also playing a part was BofA global banking’s 23% rise in investment banking fees to a near-record $2.2 billion, as advisory fees shot up 65% to a record high of $654 million.
Here are the key numbers:
Earnings per share: $0.85 vs. $0.71 expected and $0.51 a year ago
Revenue: $22.8 billion vs. $21.7 billion expected and $20.3 billion a year ago
It posted a 58% rise in net income to $7.7 billion, or $0.85 per share, for the quarter ended September 30. That topped an average estimate of $6.06 billion or $0.71 per share from analysts polled by Bloomberg.
Those figures compare with earnings of $9.2 billion and $1.03 per share in the previous quarter for the bank, which counts Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway as its largest shareholder with a 12% stake. It earned $4.9 billion and $0.51 per share in the same period last year, during the coronavirus restrictions.
Big bank earnings are scrutinized for any indications as to the health of the US economy as it continues to reopen after pandemic restrictions.
“We reported strong results as the economy continued to improve and our businesses regained the organic customer growth momentum we saw before the pandemic,” CEO Brian Moynihan said in the earnings release.
“Deposit growth was strong and loan balances increased for the second consecutive quarter, leading to an improvement in net interest income even as interest rates remained low,” he added.
The lender’s revenue for the third quarter rose 12% to $22.8 billion from $20.3 billion a year ago, as a result of stronger revenue from investment banking, and sales and trading. Analysts had expected $21.7 billion in revenue.
Bank of America’s shares rose 2.5% to $44.25 per share after the earnings release in premarket trading Wednesday. They are up 42% so far this year, compared with a 16.2% gain in the S&P 500.
Revenue in its global wealth and investment management rose 17% to $5.3 billion, driven by higher asset-management fees, and growth in loans and deposits.
The global markets business relatively underperformed, posting a 4% decline in revenue to $4.5 billion.
Ahead of the earnings release, Wall Street expected the lender’s loan growth to improve from a weaker first half of the year. The bank’s net interest income rose 10% to $11.1 billion, beating a StreetAccount estimate of $10.6 billion.
Bank of America’s key consumer-banking segment posted a 10% jump in revenue to $8.8 billion, and a slight increase in net income from last quarter.
On Wednesday, JPMorgan posted third-quarter results that beat profit estimates as its advisory fees nearly tripled. The largest US bank released reserves of $2.1 billion.
Merrill Lynch Wealth Management has made a string of changes for advisors and trainees.
Efforts include Merrill’s ‘Project Thunder’ campaign and an overhaul of the firm’s training program.
Insider is tracking the latest Merrill Lynch news and updates here.
Merrill Lynch Wealth Management is ushering in changes for its giant force of financial advisors as it navigates exits, a fierce competitive environment, and a newly reorganized training program.
The updates are wide-ranging and are aimed at addressing concerns advisors have expressed to leaders.
Merrill, among the world’s largest wealth managers with some $3.1 trillion in client balances, has started revamping its training program that dates back to the 1940s. Since Merrill has stopped hiring experienced advisors from competitors in recent years, its program has become a crucial source of bringing up new talent.
The changes this spring came after months of uncertainty for participants in its training program, where cold-calling potential clients was paused after the business found instances of violating do-not-call lists.
In the fall, Merrill started rolling out to advisors weekly updates as part of a campaign meant to address feedback from advisors and stem exits in its ranks. Merrill’s competitors, like UBS, Morgan Stanley, and wealth management firms in the independent wealth industry, are poaching large Merrill teams at a rapid clip.
Insider is tracking its latest Merrill coverage here.
As law firms and their clients seek to digitize and streamline work, VCs have been opening their wallets to the growing legal-tech space. The total value of deals in the global legal-tech market through the end of the third quarter clocks in at $1.47 billion – far surpassing the $607 million figure from all of 2020, according to data from PitchBook.
Private equity firms are also increasingly eyeing legal tech, investing more than $3.6 billion in Q1 of 2021 alone, according to market intelligence platform Bodhala.
Here’s a look at our legal-tech pitch deck collection.
A startup looking to streamline how companies handle contracts nabbed an investment from one of the world’s most high-profile investors in a nod to the rising interest in legal tech.
ContractPodAi, which helps in-house legal teams automate and manage their contracts, raised a $115 million Series C in late September led by SoftBank. The round quintupled ContractPodAi’s valuation since its last funding round in 2019, though the company declined to disclose specific valuation numbers.
The investment came from SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2. Its predecessor, the original $100 billion megafund Vision Fund, has invested in dozens of household names including WeWork, Uber, and DoorDash. While some of the fund’s bets were wildly successful, others fell short of expectations.
ContractPodAi is the first legal-tech investment by either of SoftBank’s Vision Funds.
Jus Mundi, an AI-powered legal search engine for international law and arbitration, snapped up $10 million for its Series A in September 2021.
In 2019, Jean-Rémi de Maistre, a former lawyer at the International Court of Justice, co-launched the company after realizing how hard it was to conduct research for cross-border legal cases.
Paris-based Jus Mundi raised a €1 million ($1.17 USD) seed round in March 2020, spurring a fivefold growth in annual recurring revenue over the span of 2020, according to the company. Its most recent $10 million Series A was led by C4 Ventures, a European VC firm founded by Pascal Cagni, a former head of Apple Europe. The VC firm has also invested in hot-ticket companies like Foursquare, Nest, and Via.
LawVu, an end-to-end software platform for in-house legal teams, snapped up a $17 million Series A in August.
Founded in 2015, the New Zealand-based startup enables companies’ in-house lawyers to manage contracts, documents, billing, and more on one platform.
The funding round was led by the private-equity firm Insight Partners, which has invested in other legal-tech companies like DocuSign, Kira Systems, and ContractPodAI, as well as big-ticket businesses like Twitter, Shopify, and Hello Fresh. AirTree Ventures, an Australia-based venture-capital firm, co-led the Series A.
Athennian, which helps law firms and legal departments manage data and workflow around legal entities, raised a $7 million CAD (more than $5.5 million USD) Series A extension in the beginning of March, nearly doubling its initial $8 million Series A round last year.
Athennian’s revenue and headcount more than doubled since the original Series A, according to founder and CEO Adrian Camara. He declined to disclose revenue numbers, but said that the sales and marketing team grew from 35 people in September to around 70 in March.
Launched in 2017, Athennian is used by nearly 200 legal departments and law firms, including Dentons, Fastkind, and Paul Hastings, to automate documents like board minutes, stock certificates, and shareholder consents.
The Series A extension was led by Arthur Ventures. New investors Touchdown Ventures and Clio’s CEO, Jack Newton, also participated in the round, alongside Round13 Capital and other existing investors. To date, Athennian has raised $17 million CAD, or around $14 million USD, in venture capital funding, per Pitchbook.
Contract tech is the frontrunner in the legal tech space, as companies across industries seek to streamline their contract creation, negotiation, and management processes.
Evisort, a contract lifecycle management (CLM) platform, raised $35 million in its Series B announced late February, bringing total funding to $55.5 million. The private equity firm General Atlantic led its latest funding round, with participation from existing investors Amity Ventures, Microsoft’s venture firm M12, and Vertex Ventures.
Founded in 2016, Evisort uses artificial intelligence to help businesses categorize, search, and act on documents.
Its CEO Jerry Ting founded Evisort while he was still attending Harvard Law School. He spent one summer working at Fried Frank, but soon realized that he didn’t want to be a lawyer because he didn’t want to spend excruciating hours manually reading fifty-page contracts. He did, however, recognize how important they are to corporations, and co-founded Evisort as a tool to locate and track valuable information like a contract’s expiration date and obligations like payment dates.
Try to imagine the contracts negotiation process, and one might conjure up a scene where a sheaf of papers, tucked discreetly into a manila folder, is shuttled from one law office to the mahogany table of another. With a stroke of a fountain pen, the deal is sealed.
Those old-school methods have long been replaced with the adoption of PDFs, redlined versions of which zip from email inbox to inbox. Now, contracting is undergoing another digital shift that will streamline the process as companies are becoming more comfortable with tech and are seeking greater efficiencies – and investors are taking note.
Contractbook, a Denmark-based contract lifecycle management platform, late last year raised $9.4 million in its Series A investment round, led by venture capital titan Bessemer Venture Partners. In November 2019, Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture fund, led Contractbook’s $3.9 million seed round.
Founded in Copenhagen in 2017, Contractbook uses data to automate documents, offering an end-to-end contracts platform for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Niels Brøchner, the company’s CEO and co-founder, said that Contractbook was born out of the notion that existing contract solutions failed to use a document’s data – from names of parties to the folder the document is stored in – to automate the process and drive workflow.
Cloud-based technology is having its moment, especially in the legal industry.
As attorneys have been propelled to work remotely amid the pandemic, data security and streamlined work processes are top-of-mind for law firms, leading them to adopt cloud technology.
Investors are taking note. Disco, a cloud-based ediscovery platform that uses artificial intelligence to streamline the litigation process, snapped up $60 million in equity financing in October.
Its Series F, led by Georgian Partners and also backed by VC titans like Bessemer Venture Partners and LiveOak Venture Partners, brings total investment to $195 million, valuing the company at $785 million.
Launched in Houston in 2012, Disco offers AI-fueled products geared towards helping lawyers review and analyze vast quantities of documents, allowing them to more efficiently determine which ones are relevant to a case.
BlackBoiler is an automated contract markup software that’s used by Am Law 25 firms and several Fortune 1000 companies.
The software uses machine learning to automate the process of reviewing and revising documents in “track changes.” This saves attorneys the time they would typically spend marking up contracts that often use standard boilerplate language.
As a pre-execution software used in the negotiation and markup stage of the contracts process, BlackBoiler has carved out a unique space in the $35 billion contracts industry, said Dan Broderick, a lawyer who co-founded the company in 2015 and is now its CEO.
Broderick walked Insider through the pitch deck the company used to attract funding from investors, including DocuSign as well as 10 attorneys that run the gamut from Am Law 50 partners to general counsel at large corporations.
The watchdog group said that while demand for energy continues to surge as global population growth continues and millions of people are lifted out of poverty every year, it will be essential for supply to play catch-up to avoid an ongoing surge in oil, coal, and natural gas prices.
“We are not investing enough to meet future energy needs, and the uncertainties are setting the stage for a volatile period ahead,” the IEA said.
A lack of investment in renewable energy sources like solar and wind could be a lose-lose situation for the global population, as it would lead to a continued rise in carbon emissions and could also contribute to an economic shock if energy prices stay elevated.
To achieve the goal of transitioning to net-zero emissions by 2050, the energy grid needs to play a delicate balancing act in matching supply with demand when transitioning away from fossil fuels and toward less carbon-heavy alternatives.
“If the supply side moves away from oil or gas before the world’s consumers do, then the world could face periods of market tightness and volatility. Alternatively, if companies misread the speed of change and over-invest, then these assets risk under-performing or becoming stranded,” the IEA report said.
The world is grappling with that imbalance after coming out of the pandemic, as demand was underestimated and energy suppliers are struggling to catch up. Oil prices are up 60% year-to-date, and US natural gas prices have more than doubled.
To meet the expected surge in energy demand and at the same time reach a net-zero emission goal by 2050, the IEA forecasts that $4 trillion in annual spending on renewable energy will be needed by 2030. Much of that funding must come from the private sector, but leadership is required.
“Clear signals and direction from policy makers are essential. If the road ahead is paved only with good intentions, then it will be a bumpy ride indeed,” the IEA report said.