News broke last night that Affirm, a well-known fintech unicorn, could approach the public markets at a valuation of $5 to $10 billion. The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news, said that Affirm could begin trading this year and that its IPO options include debuting via a special purpose acquisition company, also known as a SPAC.
That Affirm is considering listing is not a surprise. The company is around eight years old and has raised north of $1 billion, meaning it has locked up investor cash during its life as a private company. And liquidity has become an increasingly attractive possibility in 2020, when new offerings of all quality levels are enjoying strong reception from investors and traders who are hungry for equity in growing companies.
But $10 billion? That price tag is a multiple of what Affirm was worth last year when it added $300 million to its coffer at a post-money price of $2.9 billion. There were rumors that the firm was hunting a far larger round later in 2019, though it doesn’t appear — per PitchBook records — that Affirm raised more capital since its Series F.
This morning let’s chat about the company’s possible IPO valuation. The Journal noted the strong public performance of Afterpay as a possible cognate for Affirm — the Australian buy-now, pay-later firm saw its value dip to $8.01 per share inside the last year before soaring to around $68 today. But given the firm’s reporting cycle, it’s a hard company to use as a comp.
Happily, we have another option to lean on that is domestically listed, meaning it has more regular and recent financial disclosures. So let’s learn how much revenue it takes to earn an eleven-figure valuation on the public markets by offering consumers credit.
Affirm loans consumers funds at the point of sale that are repaid on a schedule at a certain cost of capital. Affirm customers can select different repayment periods, raising or lowering their regular payments, and total interest cost.
Synchrony offers similar installment loans to consumers, along with other forms of capital access, including privately-branded credit cards. (Verizon, TechCrunch’s parent company, recent offered a card with the company, I should note.) Synchrony is worth $13.5 billion as of this morning, making it a company of similar-ish value compared to the top end of the possible Affirm valuation range.