Caesar Sengupta has worked on, and overseen, several category-defining projects in the past decade and a half. As a product lead at Google, he was in charge of ChromeOS, the company’s desktop operating system. He then headed the Android-maker’s Next Billion Users initiative that made products such as Google Pay in India to serve and onboard the next wave of internet users.
Sengupta said Wednesday his startup, rebranded as Arta Finance, will work to provide individuals access to alternative assets that have so far largely been limited to the ultrawealthy.
Arta is building the “digital family office for the world,” said Sengupta in an interview with TechCrunch. “However, this is a highly regulated space, so we have to take very measured and cautious steps and we are also building it in a by-the-book manner.”
Sengupta also disclosed that Arta Finance has raised some funding: It has raised over $90 million across seed and Series A funding rounds from investors including Sequoia Capital India, Ribbit Capital, Coatue and more than 140 entrepreneurs, including Eric Schmidt, Betsy Cohen and Ram Shriram.
He and his colleagues identified the problem because they related to it in their personal lives, Sengupta said.
“We realized that once you get to the $10 million to $15 million range, you can get the private bank to engage with you, and they will help you. But for the vast majority of us, who have some money and are making money, our options are very limited,” he said.
“You can go to the financial planner, but it feels old-school for us tech-savvy people. You can try to do it yourself, but most of us are so busy with our work and life that all sorts of financial planning falls by the side. But if you look closely, certain parts around investing is a big data problem — the kind of problem we can apply machine learning to at scale.”
On Arta, customers will gain access to investment opportunities in alternative assets, including private equity, venture capital, private debt and real estate. The eponymous platform will allow members to start with as low as $10,000 in investment and gain access to funds from top-10 fund managers that have consistently delivered high returns over the past decades.
Arta customers will also be able to avail lines of credit without having to sell their stocks. “We don’t want our customers to liquidate to get liquidity,” Sengupta said. Members will also have the option to create “highly personalized” portfolios using stocks, bonds, options and leverage, he said, adding that fund managers and banks typically pool every customer’s money and are slow to make changes to their portfolio selection.
The startup says it will accrue interest based on performance and will be transparent about its pricing.
Arta has chosen a “massive unsolved problem in the global fintech space. Caesar and team are uniquely accomplished in having built multiple cutting-edge products that are used by billions of internet users. Similar to many other consumer fintech companies we have partnered with, this one also requires a more user-centric approach, a more delightful user experience and a more seamless and scalable platform than likely exists today,” said Shailendra Singh, managing director at Sequoia India, in a statement.
Arta is going live with accredited investors in the U.S. today. Sengupta said the startup plans to expand to many markets, including Singapore and India, over the coming years.
“What excites us about Arta is the depth of understanding of two critical lines. The first one is the complexity in financial services and the need to have more transparent access to the information that will allow you to make better decisions,” said Micky Malka, founder of Ribbit Capital, in a statement.
“Second, is the automation of it by using the best technology around. At Arta, we find the best of the two. They understand the consumer, they understand the pain, and they have the experience of working with the best technology. We’re excited to see how they can influence and change how everyone thinks about their capital and assets.”