LA Fintech Dave Goes Public on the Nasdaq After Sealing SPAC Deal
West Hollywood-based banking app Dave made its much-hyped debut as a publicly traded company on the Nasdaq stock exchange on Thursday.
Shares in Dave (ticker: DAVE) opened trading at $8.27, giving the company a market capitalization of roughly $3 billion. After swooning close to $7 per share, Dave’s stock rebounded above the $9 mark before closing the day at $8.53.
The fintech startup, which is notably backed by famed billionaire investor Mark Cuban, wrapped up its merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) sponsored by Chicago-based investment firm Victory Park Capital on Wednesday. The company is expected to raise up to $465 million in capital as a result of the merger, and is looking to use the proceeds to further grow its business—including a potential foray into crypto.
Dave founder and CEO Jason Wilk told dot.LA that part of the reason the company decided to go public was because he had personally grown weary of “the distraction of having to raise private capital.”
“We had a lot of interest in the private market, but we really thought to go public—and give the everyday retail investor the chance to invest in the company and grow with us—was a really good opportunity,” he said. “It makes it easier for us to raise more capital as a public company. Of course, there are some headaches of being a public business, but access to capital is far easier.”
Dave is among a wave of fintech startups aiming to disrupt the retail banking sector with low-fee, digitally-enabled banking services. The firm launched in 2017 as a financial planning app to help customers avoid the billions of dollars in overdraft fees charged annually by traditional banks.
It has since grown its offerings to include a checking account, and now has 11 million customers who use its services for banking, overdraft protection, building credit and finding side-gigs. Dave estimates that it has helped customers avoid nearly $1 billion in overdraft fees to date through its flagship feature, ExtraCash, and earn over $200 million in income through its gig-economy job board, Side Hustle.
As part of the IPO, Wilk and several other Dave executives rang the Nasdaq’s opening bell on Thursday—though the ceremony actually took place in L.A. several days ago, and not in New York City on the day of the company’s market debut.
Because of COVID-19 protocols and social distancing restrictions, the stock exchange shipped a duplicate podium to Dave’s old offices in the Mid-Wilshire district. The podium arrived from San Francisco, where it is occasionally used for bell-ringing ceremonies involving Silicon Valley tech firms.
Though Dave moved its headquarters in October to the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, Wilk and the other executives pre-recorded the opening bell ceremony in their old digs on Tuesday. “It was really cool to ring the bell in the place where we used to pump out code with just a few of us sitting around a desk or a coffee table,” Wilk said.
Dave is not the only L.A.-based neo-bank that has looked to go public via a SPAC merger. Marina del Rey-based Aspiration, which offers banking services with an environmentally-conscious angle, is pursuing a similar route and aims to make its market debut by the end of March.
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In this episode of LA Venture, Julie Wroblewski talks about starting Magnify Ventures and helping modern families.
Wroblewski worked with Melinda French Gates to start Pivotal Ventures. For Wroblewski, it was her dream job as she got to lead venture capital investment strategy for five years. One of the focus areas at Pivotal was around caregiving innovation and American family homes.
Wroblewski cites a report from one of Magnify's partners that estimates the care economy at $648 billion in the United States, already larger than the pharmaceutical market. Wroblewski's fund is writing up to $2.5 million checks into companies that will transform life, work and care for modern families.
"I started to see what I thought was a very exciting and still overlooked category of investment in venture capital around the care economy, and family-focused technology and was also seeing a lot of flow and founders," said Wroblewski.
As an investor, she is particularly interested in tools like household optimization that help families be both more efficient and joyful. She also wants to let parents know they don't have to be experts. Technology can help give them access to what they need, when they need it.
"Technology is moving closer into our lives all the time and solving increasingly human, complex, difficult problems, including, how we care for and manage care for children and our loved ones--the things that are most personal to us," said Wroblewski.
"We've seen such a wave of technology innovation in the workplace. You know, we now use so many different tools to help increase our productivity at work, to improve our health and well being in some cases in the workplace," she added. "And I think we haven't yet seen the same sort of investment in innovation move into some areas of family life and household management. And so I think that that's going to change."
dot.LA Audience Engagement Intern Joshua Letona contributed to this post.
Pejman Nozad, a founding managing partner at Pear VC, joins this episode of LA Venture to discuss Pear VC's current initiatives, including its accelerator and fellowships. He's seen as one of the most successful angel investors in the area, and for good reason: he has made more than 300 investments in his lifetime.
"I'm a child of revolution and war and difficult times," said Nozad of his upbringing in Iran during the revolution.
Nozad went to college before dropping out. That's when his brother told him about his dream to go to America. After his brother was denied a visa multiple times, Nozad went himself to the embassy and got lucky; the woman in charge of the process liked him enough to approve him.
"When you're in [your] early twenties, you don't analyze much of the future. And then your risk-takers. I came to America in 1992 with $700 and I didn't speak any word of English," said Nozad.
Nozad went from working at a carwash, then a yogurt shop, to a (now famous) Persian rug store in Palo Alto. Many of his clients happened to be CEOs and venture capitalists; Nozad wanted to be part of that community.
"I was very lucky because I had access to people who normally nobody can see them, but I was hanging out with them at Sunday barbecues while selling carpets," said Nozad.
In his early days as an investor, Nozad bet on companies that included Dropbox and DoorDash. He said he took inspiration as a venture capitalist in lessons he learned from his time playing professional soccer in Iran.
"In soccer, you can score minute one, or you can score at minute 90. Both of them [are] one goal and you can win the game. So, when you go to fundraise, don't get disappointed if you hear a lot of nos, because the yes could be the last meeting after the whole two months," he said.
dot.LA Engagement Intern Joshua Letona contributed to this post.
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