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Savings and investing app Acorns is now a unicorn valued at $1.9 billion after closing a $300 million Series F funding round, the Irvine-based company announced Wednesday. The fresh funds come two months after the startup bailed on a plan to go public by merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).
The new funding sees Acorns double its private market valuation, which stood at $860 million following a $105 million Series E raise in 2019. However, the new valuation falls short of the $2.2 billion that Acorns originally targeted through its canceled SPAC deal.
Private equity firm TPG led the Series F round and was joined by the likes of BlackRock, Greycroft and Kevin Durant’s Thirty Five Ventures. New investors Galaxy Digital, a crypto-focused investment firm, and Owl Rock, a division of asset management firm Blue Owl, also participated.
Galaxy Digital’s connection to blockchain tech is no coincidence. In a statement on the raise, Acorns announced that it intends to introduce customizable investment portfolios that will include “the ability to add crypto exposure to a diversified portfolio.” The update would represent a shift for Acorns, which to date has focused on hands-off, passive investing tools.
Acorns isn’t alone in turning away from SPACs as of late. While the so-called blank-check companies can offer startups a speedier route to the public markets, their appeal has cooled recently due to heightened scrutiny from regulators and generally poor market performance. Instead, Acorns plans to “pursue a traditional IPO,” CEO Noah Kerner told TechCrunch. “We think that makes the most sense going forward,” he said.
True to its name, Acorns claims it has planted more than 723,000 oak trees to date to “help fight climate change.” This appeal to climate-minded customers isn’t unique to the savings app; other fintech firms have also embraced tree planting, including Marina del Rey-based neo-bank Aspiration.
Acorns is tied to fossil fuels through at least one of its investors, however: A report from Reclaim Finance, a French climate advocacy group, found that BlackRock had $85 billion in assets tied to coal companies as of January 2021.