A Wealthsimple Trade app icon is shown on a smartphone on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jesse Johnston

A Wealthsimple Trade app icon is shown on a smartphone on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jesse Johnston

Drake, Ryan Reynolds among latest Wealthsimple backers in $750 million funding round

Wealthsimple began as an online investment manager in 2014

A new financing deal involving plenty of star power and venture capital investors has pushed Wealthsimple’s valuation to $5 billion and has its CEO anxious to build the brand even further.

The Toronto-based financial services business announced Monday that it has raised $750 million from six celebrities and more than 15 venture capital investment firms including Meritech, Greylock, Dragoneer and iNovia.

The star-studded list of investors includes rapper Drake, actors Ryan Reynolds and Michael J. Fox, NBA players Kelly Olynyk and Dwight Powell and NHL all-star Patrick Marleau.

“It’s incredibly exciting and feels great, but I am notoriously a bad person at celebrating things, so I’m already thinking about what’s next and where we have got to go,” Wealthsimple co-founder and CEO Mike Katchen said hours after announcing the financing.

He plans to use the new cash to expand Wealthsimple’s market position, build out its offering of products and grow its team.

Wealthsimple, which began as an online investment manager in 2014, has grown to add Wealthsimple Trade, a commission-free stock trading platform, and Wealthsimple Crypto, which allows users to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency assets.

It also launched Wealthsimple Cash, a peer-to-peer money transfer app, earlier this year and offers automated investing, saving and tax filing products.

“We are really trying to become the full-service financial partner, the primary financial relationship in our clients lives,” Katchen said.

“We’ve come a long way and we’re offering a pretty big breadth of services to get there, but we have still got a long way to go to the services we offer.”

Part of that long way to go, he said, will include broadening Wealthsimple’s suite of services again and exploring how its current offerings can provide even more value to customers.

Katchen admitted that he has his eye on an initial public offering, too.

He feels it’s the best way to build a lasting brand, but said “it’s just a question of timing.”

“We want to focus on executing our plan and many of those short-term questions that get introduced when you’re going public can be a distraction,” he said.

“We’re just not going to deal with that for the time being, but it is for sure in the plan still.”

For now, Katchen has big decisions to make around deploying his new war chest and a pandemic still to navigate.

While many businesses have struggled during the crisis and had to turn to layoffs, closures and even bankruptcies, the pandemic boosted Wealthsimple.

Katchen noticed people increasing the attention they paid to their finances and many were able to save larger-than-expected amounts of cash they wanted to invest or collect compounded interest on.

He said it sparked “unprecedented” levels of activity in Wealthsimple’s trading and cryptocurrency businesses.

“I never would have guessed that COVID would have this remarkable tailwind for the investment industry,” Katchen said.

To address those demands, the company scaled as much as it could, while also trying to educate consumers about financial tools.

Education has long been a cornerstone for Wealthsimple, which has marketed itself as an easy-to-understand investment company operating a website peppered with explainers for investing newcomers.

Katchen believes that ethos and branding helped Wealthsimple hook celebrity investors.

“When we were introduced to them to talk about this investment opportunity, they already had some affinity for the company,” he said.

“I think they love seeing a Canadian company be successful, all of them are Canadian, and so there was just an easy conversation to bring them on board.”

It wasn’t Wealthsimple’s first time raising big bucks. The company snagged $114 million from TCV, Greylock and Meritech at a $1.5 billion post-money valuation last October.

The last time Meritech and Greylock co-led a funding round was the Facebook Series B in 2006, Wealthsimple said.

“We invest in companies with the potential to revolutionize industries and become enduring market leaders,” said Meritech’s general partner Max Motschwiller, in a release.

Wealthsimple has been able to capture a generation of financial consumers in Canada with financial products that are markedly different than anything offered by the incumbents — simpler, more human, and built with the kind of technology that delivers an experience consumers want.”

Meritech has also invested in Salesforce, Nextdoor, Zulily and Lime, while Greylock has backed Airbnb, LinkedIn, Coinbase and Discord.

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

economyFinanceStocks

Just Posted

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

Brenda Ware. (RCMP)
Murder charge laid against man in Kootenay National Park homicide

Philip Toner was located in Lake Country on May 11

Town has passed the 2021 budget, with a five per cent spending increase. (Claire Palmer photo)
Town council approves 2021 budget and tax rate bylaw

The budget will increase by five per cent this year

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Vernon’s Tanya Wick, human resources VP at Tolko Industries Ltd., has been named the 2021 HR Professional of the Year by the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia and Yukon. (CPHR BC & Yukon photo)
Okanagan resident gets top provincial award for HR excellence

Tolko’s Tanya Wick has earned the title of 2021 HR Professional of the Year

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

The City of Vernon is taking a close look at six high-priority Okanagan Lake access points, including three sites along Tronson Road (pictured above) in May 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon council looking closely at Okanagan Lake access points

Six access points have been identified as ideal for recreation

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Police working to identify the two bodies found in South Okanagan

The area will see higher police presence ahead of a forensic examination

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media file)
More than 40% of Central Okanagan residents have received 1st vaccine dose

Local clinics have administered 81,247 first doses to Central Okanagan residents

Most Read