The Startups: Who’s shaking things up (Week ending March 13, 2016)

fintech startups shaking things up

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Startups raising/Investors investing

Alibaba’s Ant Financial raising new funding at $60b ahead of IPO (TechCrunch)
Ant Financial, the Alibaba affiliate that manages hugely popular payments service Alipay, is raising a new round of financing that could value the company as high as $60 billion ahead of a much-speculated public listing.

Property Partner lands £15.9m to scale up real estate crowdfunding platform (TechCrunch)
The online real estate investing market is getting more competitive every month.
In any conversation I have about London’s fintech space, property crowdfunding platform Property Partner is almost certain to come up. The startup which lets you invest from as little as £50 in residential property — or the so-called ‘buy to let’ market, as it’s called here in the U.K. — has, by all accounts, been growing at a clip.

Launched just over a year ago it claims more than 6,200 customers who have collectively invested more than £24 million across 166 properties. To further scale up the platform, including increased marketing spend, new products, and growing the team, Property Partner has closed an investment round totaling £15.9 million.

Citi leads $4.2m Selerity funding round (Finextra)
Selerity, a startup that monitors unstructured data and delivers personalised alerts to investors and traders, has raised $4.2 million in a funding round led by Citi, which is also using the firm’s algorithms to provide recommendations to clients through its Citi Velocity platform.

Solar crowdfunding investment platform, Wunder announces $3.6m round (Medium)
Wunder Capital, an online lending platform that connects investors with large-scale solar projects across the United States, announced today a $3.6 million investment round led by Techstars Ventures, Fenway Summer Ventures, and FinTech Collective, alongside existing seed investors.

Online insurance manager CoverWallet raises $2m (Finextra)
CoverWallet announced it received $2 million in seed funding from Two Sigma Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, Founder Collective and a list of strategic angel investors.
The startup, which was in stealth mode until this week, provides small businesses with a concierge-like service that helps businesses deal with the complex, and often confusing, intricacies of commercial insurance.

Former Thomson Reuters chief Glocer invests in Algomi (Finextra)
Former Thomson Reuters CEO Tom Glocer has invested in, and become a strategic advisor to, fixed income liquidity discovery start-up Algomi.

The Startups: Who’s shaking things up

Meet Forcerank, the FanDuel for stocks (WSJ)
The set-up is similar to FanDuel and DraftKings, which let people bet real money with fantasy sports line-ups. Estimize’s new app, called Forcerank, allows players to rank a group of stocks in the order of how they expect them to perform.

But the real reason for the app is far more interesting: the data. Leigh Drogen, chief executive of Estimize, said in an interview with Moneybeat that the idea for Forcerank was inspired by a profitable hedge-fund data program that was shut down by the New York Attorney General several years ago.

Online lender SoFi to run its own hedge fund (MarketWatch)
The unusual move by SoFi is an attempt to get around waning investor interest that is threatening online lenders’ growth. The sector lacks the deposits needed to fund its loans like traditional banks, so it relies on being able to sell the loans to investors to free up capital to make new ones.

Bloomberg’s Matt Levine has his own interpretation on SoFi’s move:
SoFi’s name is “Social Finance,” not, like, “Captive Hedge Fund Securitization Finance.” Lending Club is a “club.” You can witness ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny. A social club for regular people to lend money to other regular people becomes a securitization platform with its own in-house hedge fund while you watch. The whole history of modern finance recurs, sped up, right before your eyes. It is kind of beautiful.
Turns out, SoFi is looking at various ways to ensure capital formation and that is has enough dry powder in the future to keep funding loans. Bloomberg reported that the firm was also sketching out plans to start a real estate investment trust that would buy the mortgages the startup lender makes.

Roofstock is a marketplace for investing in leased single-family homes (Crowdfund Insider)
Just launched this week, Roofstock claims the title of the first marketplace for investing in single-family rental homes. Roofstock matches buyers with sellers in a completely digital transaction. Roofstock states it offers a proprietary inventory of leased, certified, professionally managed homes that generate immediate cash flow.