Welcome to The Interchange! If you received this in your inbox, thank you for signing up and your vote of confidence. If you’re reading this as a post on our site, sign up here so you can receive it directly in the future. Every week, I’ll take a look at the hottest fintech news of the previous week. This will include everything from funding rounds to trends to an analysis of a particular space to hot takes on a particular company or phenomenon. There’s a lot of fintech news out there and it’s my job to stay on top of it — and make sense of it — so you can stay in the know. — Mary Ann
As this year comes to a close, it’s an obviously fitting time to take a look back at some of the highlights (and lowlights) in the world of fintech news.
We started 2022 on a relatively high note. Mega rounds were still taking place! Decacorns were born. Venture capital was still readily available. Then sometime in the second quarter, things took a turn. And they’ve been turning ever since.
In deciding how to approach the final edition of this newsletter for the year, I was curious as to which of my stories performed the best. So I asked our incredible audience development manager, Alyssa Stringer, to pull my top 15 stories based on the number of page views. In summary, dear readers, it seems you all were most interested in coverage of companies at their peaks and in coverage of companies at their lowest. It was the best of times. And then it felt like the worst of times. And oh, many of you were curiously really curious about the concept of fractional real estate investing.
Here were my top 15 most-read stories on the TechCrunch site in 2022:
- ‘We probably pissed away $200 million,’ Better.com CEO told employees in layoffs meeting: A collab with the brilliant Zack Whittaker, where we got to hear for ourselves Vishal Garg address employees . . . and it wasn’t pretty.
- Fast shuts doors after slow growth, high burn precluded fundraising options: A collab with my dear friend, TC+ editor and Equity podcast co-host Alex Wilhelm. Watching one-click checkout startup Fast crash and burn was certainly one of the biggest stories in fintech this year.
- Ramp confirms new $8.1B valuation after ‘a nearly 10x’ YoY increase in revenue: The corporate spend startup had doubled its valuation from August 2021 to March 2022. The space in which it operates has only gotten more crowded. Meanwhile, the company has since expanded into new lines of business.
- Fintech Roundup: Better.com workers leaving in ‘droves’ in wake of CEO Vishal Garg’s return: This one is particularly meaningful for me, as it was the soft launch of what would ultimately become The Interchange. Also, one of many Better.com-related scoops.
- PayPal shuttering its San Francisco office: This one kinda surprised me, as it didn’t strike me as that major of news, but perhaps it was a sign of what was to come later in 2022.
- Forerunner, Bezos back Arrived, a startup that lets you buy into single-family rentals for ‘as little as $100’: This nearly tied with the PayPal piece above. It got a lot of interest — perhaps it was a combination of the very compelling business model and the fact that Jeff Bezos was a backer.
- Better.com employees learned of layoffs when severance checks appeared in payroll app: Another scoop that had many of us shaking our heads in wonder (and not in a good way).
- Fintech Klarna reportedly raising at a $6.5B valuation, giving new meaning to the phrase ‘down round’: This perhaps marked an inflection point in 2022. When a company that was valued at $45 billion last year is raising at about 1/7 of that, people pay attention. The tide was turning in the fintech space, and this news made a lot of people very nervous, as it felt like proof that the party that was 2021 was over.
- Better.com loses more senior execs as employees brace for another mass layoff: Another scoop that had many of us shaking our heads in wonder (and not in a good way).
- The fintech layoffs just keep on coming: When 2022 began, the only layoffs I was covering were being conducted by Better.com. But by early November, it was sadly very apparent that layoffs were rampant across the fintech industry.
- Alchemy, which aims to be the ‘de facto platform’ for developers to build on web3, is now valued at $10.2B: I wrote this back when I was still doing some crypto reporting. Alchemy grew a lot, very quickly. It might be a good time to check on them considering all that has happened in the crypto space since that raise.
- Fintech Brex confirms $12.3B valuation, snaps up Meta exec to serve as its head of product: This published in January. By October, I was writing about the company’s layoffs. A lot went on in between, including the company’s controversial decision to stop serving SMBs.
- Better.com plans to lay off about 4,000 people this week, sources say: You guessed it, another scoop.
- Fintech startup Jeeves raises $180M, quadruples valuation to $2.1B in half a year: The velocity of Jeeves’s growth and valuation increase was impressive. A BaaS company in the corporate card and expense management space. But even as early as March, the startup’s CEO noted of the fundraising process: “The market looked very different in January and February than it did in December.”
- Landa can make you a landlord with just $5: Like I said, it appears you all are really interested in fractional real estate investing, or maybe just a lot of people secretly want to become landlords.
It was an eventful, and at times nerve-racking, year that was far more than just the above. Venture dollars flowing into fintech slowed, just as with any other sector. Characters got called into question. But I remain hopeful. The companies that were doing meaningful things in 2021 and in 2022 will continue to do so. They may be spending more mindfully and working a bit more quietly — but IMHO, that’s not a bad thing. Fintech innovation remains more important than ever, especially as it pertains to inclusion and access. There are so many startups doing amazing work. We can’t let the few bad apples taint it all. I know there remains a long road ahead. We’re not done correcting the excesses of 2021. But I, for one, am excited for what fintech will bring in 2023. (Speaking of, check out the Equity team’s predictions for next year here.)
Funding and M&A
Friendly PSA: We want you to join us in Boston on April 20 at TechCrunch Early Stage 2023, and we’ve got a great end-of-2022 discount to help you out with the rest of your holiday shopping. Register with this link by 11:59 p.m. PST on December 31 and book a Founder Pass for just $75 — regularly $149! Early Stage is TechCrunch’s one-day founder summit, where you’ll get actionable advice and takeaways from top experts, meet other entrepreneurs taking similar journeys, share your own experiences and build the confidence to take the next steps toward growing your business. Don’t wait — book your Founder Pass today for just $75 with this link!
And with that, I will sign off. This is the last newsletter I’ll publish in 2022. I don’t know where this year went, and to be honest, in many ways it was really, really hard. But there were also a lot of bright spots, including growing this newsletter audience and having the honor of sharing this content with all of you. Thank you again. Happy holidays to all of you, and Happy and Healthy New Year! May it be a better, brighter and wonderful year. xoxo, Mary Ann