Looking back on the last year, it’s pretty clear that we’re still in early innings for FinTech Startups. The content below will do a good job of chronicling that. 2014 was a record year for FinTech funding, and 2015 should be an incrementally better year as well- with exits, monster rounds and maybe even some mergers certainly in the works. Between Twitter and LinkedIn, there was an endless flow of clickable material that made me more informed and smarter about the space. I’m sharing nine links below you should read/listen to if you haven’t already if you’re interested in following the story of the future of financial services.
1. “Why Bitcoin Matters“, by Mark Andreesen. For people who don’t really get or believe in the blockchain, all that will stick out here at end-of-year is much ado about “Bitcoin, the worst performing currency of 2014”. That’s too bad, but I guess it makes good headlines. For Blockchain companies, there’s a ton of funding out there, and the developer community is totally engaged.
2. “The FinTech Wave… All About Timing“, by Matteo Rizzi. It’s very easy to be caught in the US bubble, but the early-stage ecosystem in Europe was way ahead of its time. This blog talks about the incubators that helped companies like Transferwise (which is currently valued at a Billion dollars) and Matteo was there day one. Matteo and those guys built something impressive out of thin air and the cohesiveness of that community has set the foundation for a very potent ecosystem that is truly global.
3. “Why Venture Capital Has The Hots For Financial Services“, by Karl Antle. I remember when Karl left Oliver Wyman and joined ValueStream Labs and immediately generated some really great content that resonated deeply in the community. The VSL guys talk the talk and walk the walk here in town. Connecting people, helping companies, and demystifying stuff using their blog as a megaphone.
4. “Can The Bloomberg Terminal Be Toppled“, by Matt Turck. Spoiler Alert… no. Matt is a VC who also can write and also runs one of the most important meetups here in town. I liked this blog because I calculated that
I my former employers spent about $285,000 with BLP since my first trading gig in 1998, and in 2014 people are still taking whacks at how to decouple this machine. As he puts it in his blog, going ‘around’ or ‘below’ the terminal might work for the right data provider, I’m very interested to see which one will actually get people engaged.
5. “Banks Lure Fintech Startups With Venture Funds“, Anna Arrera (for Wall Street Journal). I’ve said anecdotally that banks starting VC’s for fintech feels dangerously close to when every single bank had to have a prop-trading desk. This article was widely shared, rightfully so some of these Euro banks put together some extremely large checks. So far, I feel like most of that money has not made it across the pond, and I wonder if/how it will.
6. “The Real Truth About FinTech Startups“, Anish Varma. Anish is CEO of Aire.io, a LON based startup that was part of TechStars/Barclays inaugural class. Required reading for anyone looking to build or invest in the space, he speaks from a place only someone who has gone through the process actually can. Pay attention to the part about how MVP’s are and have to be different for a true startup in the space.
7. The Accenture FinTech Investment Report “The Rise Of Fintech“. The brilliant team at Fintech Innovation Lab put this together in tandem with the demo day for their 2014 NYC class. The piece talks about the opportunity for NY to lead, and puts some real projections on what investments in the space could look like in years ahead.
8. “Race To The Bottom” by Matt Harris. Matt is rightfully at the top of most “lists” for who is the #1 VC in the FinTech space here in NYC, probably in the whole country. After the OnDeck IPO, I think it’s safe to say he’s one of the most successful too. Check this article out to hear his thoughts on betting on companies who are trying to disrupt commodity businesses and create huge value.
9. “Battle For Fintech Supremacy” podcast hosted by Brett King of Moven. I always find it irritating when people instigate content with words like “smackdown” and “showdown” in the context of London Vs. NYC and Fintech startups. I see a huge opportunity to learn from the successes of both cities, always curious to learn more about what makes both tick. I was glad to come across this podcast which had some really articulate people on it like Matt Harris, Clair Cockerton and Pascal Bouvier of Route 66 Ventures. Even David Rose chimed in (late) and he always gets me pumped up about my city and our future.
There are probably a ton that I missed, potentially some very obvious ones as well. But hopefully, you enjoyed it. Happy New Year!