Plaid IPO: Everything you need to know about Plaid

Plaid is developing into a major player in the innovative open banking space. Here’s the lowdown on the company in advance of the widely-discussed Plaid IPO.

Plaid IPO: What do we know about the Plaid IPO?

The date for the Plaid IPO has not yet been announced, but interest is growing for its inevitable flotation. The valuation of the company post listing is hard to ascertain, but it could be well north of its current $15 billion valuation.

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How to trade Plaid

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How much is Plaid worth?

Plaid is worth some $13.5 billion as of its Series D fundraising round in April 2021, in which it raised $425 million. Prior to this mark, December 2018 saw the company achieve a valuation of around $2.4 billion following a Series C round of $250 million.

What is Plaid?

Plaid is a San Francisco-based financial services company, more specifically an open banking platform, set up to facilitate data transfers between consumers and businesses and their bank accounts. This is done through an application programming interface (API) which enables third-party developers to access a company's data.

The company was started in 2012 by programmers Zach Perret and William Hockey, who had previously been frustrated by the inability to access data while building products in the financial sector. The pair sought to improve the financial services ecosystem for developers by introducing an API designed to act as the data layer between financial institutions and applications.

An early breakthrough saw Plaid’s solution allow peer-to-peer payments app Venmo to improve its transactions with partners in real time, with Plaid also building Venmo’s backend infrastructure. Venmo’s ensuing success helped Plaid attract further customers in turn.

With this momentum, Plaid raised seed funding in 2003 to the tune of $2.8 million, led by Spark Capital. The money went towards moving the company to San Francisco from New York and also funded the journey out of private beta.

A Series A round of $12.5 million followed in 2014, with a Series B of $44 million providing the necessary funds in 2016 for scaling operations further. Next was a $250 million Series C round in 2018, following a period of focus on product development.

Most recently, the company raised a Series D round in April 2021 of $425 million. The company had grown to around 650 staff, with reported annualised revenues of $170 million by December 2020. To date, Plaid claims to have integrated with more than 11,000 banks and connect to more than 200 million consumer accounts.

Who are Plaid’s competitors?

Plaid’s competitors include financial data aggregators such as Yodlee and Zabo. The former is mostly for banks and brokerage accounts and is a mainstay of more than 20 years, seeing an IPO in 2014 valuing the company at around $340 million. Yodlee was in turn acquired by wealth management technology provider Envestnet in 2015 for $590 million, and remains a major player in data aggregation.

Meanwhile Zabo, started much later in 2018, has a focus on connecting cryptocurrency accounts rather than banks and brokerages, and is able to support exchanges like Coinbase and Kraken. Zabo was acquired by Coinbase in August 2021 for an undisclosed sum.

Elsewhere, Salt Lake City-based open banking operator Finicity was acquired by Mastercard in 2020 for $825 million.

How does Plaid make money?

Plaid makes money primarily through charging fees for the use of its premium service. Companies can pay for connections to financial institutions, with a one-time fee for connecting a new account to the Plaid API as well as fees charged when the API is requested to check a user’s account balance.

What is Plaid's business strategy?

Plaid’s business strategy from the start was focused on facilitating the access to data for developers and making innovation in fintech easier. Plaid’s work contributed to the success of early customer Venmo, which attracted other customers as well as early finance.

The company’s first acquisition was investment data aggregator Quovo in 2019, a transaction that signalled Plaid’s intent to expand beyond checking and savings data. Plaid also purchased interactive branding company Flannel in 2021.

Plaid itself was targeted for acquisition by Visa in 2020, but the transaction fell through when the US Department of Justice filed a suit to block the deal, asserting that the merger would stymy competition in the payments industry. 

Plaid has had to contend with other assorted reputational issues from data usage concerns to improper privacy risk disclosures. The company settled a $58 million class action lawsuit in 2021 after claims that the firm passed on personal banking data without user consent.

The development will raise questions among some would-be investors and traders in an IPO as to the application of open banking methods moving forward. It remains to be seen the impact of the suit on the company’s perception in the market.

Is Plaid profitable?

At the moment, there is no evidence to suggest that Plaid is profitable as the company does not release such data. Market speculators will be keen to find out if the company can diversify its revenue streams as the company scales its userbase.

Who owns Plaid?

The ownership of Plaid is split between a range of individuals, such as the founder Perret, as well as financial institutions that have contributed to the company’s many funding rounds. These include JP Morgan, Kleiner Perkins, Index Ventures and Altimeter Capital.

Key personnel of Plaid

Zachary Perret – Co-founder, Chief Executive Officer

Jean-Denis Greze – Chief Technology Officer

Eric Sager – Chief Operations Officer

Paul Williamson – Head of Sales

Helen Min – Head of Marketing

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