U.S.-based savings and investing startup Acorns has acquired London-based GoHenry, a startup focused on providing money management and financial education services to 6-18 year-olds in an all-equity deal, the two companies announced today.
The combined valuation of the company, as well as further financial terms, were not disclosed. When Acorns last raised funding, $300 million in March 2022, it was valued at $2 billion; GoHenry has not disclosed its valuation but was believed to be valued at between $250 million and $500 million in October 2022, when it raised $55 million.
The acquisition is notable for a couple of reasons. For one, if the companies have managed to keep their valuations level (valuations have seen a lot of pressure in the last six months) it would be one of the bigger M&A deals between two fintech startups, coming at a time when startups have found it very challenging to raise further funding — either from private investors, or from the public markets by way of an IPO.
Second of all, it will add a number of new backers to Acorns’ cap table. GoHenry’s investors include Edison Partners, Revaia, Citi Ventures, Muse Capital and Nexi, which are all rolling over their equity in the deal.
Lastly, this gives Acorns an opening to grow internationally, starting with GoHenry’s existing footprint across the U.K., France, Italy and Spain.
The companies would not provide specific details regarding individual metrics, saying only that the combined company will have nearly 6 million subscribers. Previous TechCrunch coverage helps us break down the mix, but also points to either or both having lost some users in recent times. In March of 2022, CEO Noah Kerner had told TechCrunch that the company had more than 4.6 million paid subscribers. GoHenry last October said it had 2 million customers.
Since its 2012 inception, Acorns has raised just over $500 million from investors such as private equity firm TPG, BlackRock, Greycroft, Owl Rock (a division of Blue Owl), Senator Investment Group, Torch Capital, Industry Ventures, Bain Capital Ventures, Galaxy Digital, Headline and Kevin Durant & Rich Kleiman’s Thirty Five Ventures.
Acorns is coming into this deal after it faced a setback on an earlier exit plan of its own. The company originally had intentions to go public, and in 2021 it laid out plans to do so by way of a SPAC. At the time, it had projected revenue of $126 million for the year, according to the deck analyzed by our own Alex Wilhelm. But with the SPAC market facing a lot of troubles, and the tech IPO market drying up at the end of 2021, Acorns scrapped its SPAC IPO plans in January of 2022.
GoHenry (named after its first child-customer, according to the company) has raised a total of $125 million since it was founded in 2012. It posted $42 million in revenue in 2021 (the last complete year it reported), double what it made in 2020.
Neither Acorns or GoHenry — both of which are 10 years old — were yet profitable at the time of their last raises.
Acorns got its start initially targeting younger adults, specifically millennials, before also opening its first services for children in 2017. GoHenry will help it extend in that market segment. From its early days, GoHenry has focused on the 6 to 18 age group, which currently use two main services from the company: a prepaid debit card (topped up by parents typically) and a “financial education” app that links to that card (and an app that parents can use to help monitor and manage the account). Until last summer, GoHenry operated in the U.K. as well as in the U.S., where it had expanded to in 2018. It began also servicing France and Spain when it acquired French startup Pixpay last July and it also opened up for business in Italy in January of this year.
Acorns has evolved its offering to also include investment services, debt management and a product aimed at children, Acorns Early which launched in June of 2020. Acorns Early lets parents, guardians, family and friends easily invest in a child’s future. Prior to GoHenry, Acorns had also acquired Vault, Harvest Platform and Pillar.
The two companies’ executives say that the combined company will let them serve customers through all life stages – from birth to retirement. Acorns claims it has helped Americans save and invest over $16 billion since its founding, while GoHenry’s customers saved $130 million in the last five years. The acquisition now puts Acorns directly in competition with other U.S.-based fintechs already offering debit cards to children and/or teens, including Greenlight, Step, and Current.
“Both of us have been dreaming about this idea for financial wellness for the whole family for a long time,” Kerner told TechCrunch in an interview, noting that the companies have been in conversations for two years. “So being able to serve kids, teens and adults holistically inside one company globally is really exciting.”
GoHenry co-founder Louise Hill said she is “excited about the opportunities” the combination will unlock.
“It’s very much a shared vision/mission, looking at the best interests of families, and the up and coming – the everyday people,” she said in an interview. “Being able to expand and offer the same approach to financial well being to adults as well is hugely exciting.”
The combined company — both of which offer subscription services — has over 700 employees. While the deal was primarily equity, there was a “tiny cash consideration,” Hill said, that was more out of “administrative necessity than anything else.”
The decision to acquire GoHenry was not one made lightly, according to Kerner, who said Acorns evaluated “over 100” companies globally.
“We have been very focused on the U.S. market with our products but have always had aspirations to deliver globally,” he told TechCrunch. “This allows us to accelerate that path.”
Hill said GoHenry too always had the intention to globalize.
“Our teams have been talking together for over two years, and it just became more and more obvious that the right way to go was to come together,” she said.
In the U.S., GoHenry will operate as GoHenry by Acorns. In the U.K. & Europe, GoHenry & PixPay will continue to operate under their own brands.
As the IPO market has dried up, many industry observers had predicted that the fintech space would see more consolidation. And so far in 2023, we’ve seen a number of M&A deals.
For example, earlier this year, Marqeta announced plans to acquire two-year-old fintech infrastructure startup Power Finance for $223 million in cash, marking the first acquisition in that publicly traded company’s 13-year history. Also in January: investment giant BlackRock announced it was acquiring a minority stake in SMB 401(k) provider startup Human Interest; remote payroll startup Deel acquired fintech Capbase; Fidelity acquired equity management startup Shoobx; Vouch, an insurtech focused on startups, acquired lending startup Level and American Express entered into an agreement to acquire Nipendo.
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