One fintech OG to another


January 17, 2019

Two fintech old timers are coming for Square, after a $22B merger.
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2 fintech old-timers are coming after Square with a $22B partnership

Fiserv, a fintech company that processes credit card swipes for banks, purchased its payment rival First Data in a $22B deal. 

Fiserv and First Data may not be household names, but once their payment-processing partnership is complete, the combined company plans to take on hugely hyped heavyweights like Square.

The merger heard ’round the Midwest

Both Fiserv (based in Wisconsin) and First Data (based in Atlanta) are old, but accomplished.

Fiserv, which makes systems that help banks process and track digital payments, is 35 years old. First Data, which caters to merchants by offering point-of-sale systems to customers like Lyft, is 48.

Now, despite First Data’s $17B in debt from a 2007 buyout, the 2 companies make perfect payment partners to challenge the newer end-to-end payment systems.

Circling around Square

Since companies like Square (10 years old) and Ant Financial (5 years old) have rolled out payment solutions for bankers and merchants, other payment platforms have felt pressure to consolidate.

By combining forces, Fiserv and First Data’s new company (which will retain Fiserv’s name), will become a threat based on its sheer size: First Data tech is used by 6m vendors alone (for comparison, 2m vendors were using Square at the end of 2017).

It’s too early to know if the partnership will pay off

The combined company expects to save $900m over the course of the next 5 years and plans to spend $500m to build out its “merchant solutions and payment technologies” over that same period. 

While First Data’s stock rose more than 19% after the merger announcement, Fiserv’s stock fell around 7%.

You gotta pay to pay
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Return of the Razr: Motorola will try to make more magic with a $1,500, foldable Razr

The Motorola Razr, the sleekest status symbol of the middle school flip-phone era, will return this year — as a luxury smartphone with a foldable screen and a $1,500 price tag.

Meanwhile, the iPhone’s market share rose from 0 to 40% in the 15 years since the first Razr launched, and now Motorola will have to slice into a piece of Apple’s market.

Will the new Razr still cut it?

When the original Razr first went on sale in 2004, it was a $600 luxury phone. But the phone soon became so popular that Motorola dropped the price, and it ended up selling 130m Razrs.

But Razr sales didn’t stay sharp: When iPhones went on sale in 2007, Razr sales plummeted: In 2008, 24% of new iPhone users had all switched from the same phone: The Razr.

Times have changed since the Razr was cool

Today’s phone market looks just as different as the new Razr. In 2004 (3 years before the iPhone was launched) Motorola phones accounted for 27% of the cell phone market and Nokia accounted for an additional 20%. 

But today, Motorola accounts for 6% and Nokia accounts for 0%, while iPhones account for 40% of the market. Motorola has attempted to revive the Razr before (in 2009 and 2011), but both attempts failed to gain traction against the iPhone. 

After missing the boat on touchscreens the first time around, Motorola is betting on the next cool smartphone feature: the folding touchscreen. 

» Does it come with Heelys?

More controversy equals more security detail for high-profile tech CEOs

We’ve heard the insane sum of cash that goes into the US president’s security detail, but the CEOs of billion-dollar companies have their fair market share of bodyguards as well.

Wired reports that Apple’s (dare we say the Boy Scout of billion-dollar corporations) most recent filing earlier this month showed the company spent $310k on personal security for CEO Tim Cook.

Of course, $310k for Cook is pennies compared to other high-profile CEOs — most of whom have struggled to stay off humanity’s sh*t list.

Even Bezos isn’t buff enough to protect himself… 

Amazon spent around $1.6m in the 2018 fiscal year to protect Jeff Bezos, while Alphabet (Google’s parent company) laid out more than $900k to protect both Sundar Pichai and former executive chair Eric Schmidt.

Still, none of those numbers come close to the Controversy King himself: In 2017, Facebook spent $7.3m on Mark Zuckerberg’s security (roughly $20k a day) and last year the company told investors to anticipate spending $10m annually.

In other words, the price of a small force field

Zuck’s security costs are up from a lean $2.6m in 2013 (when Facebook was slightly less hated). Now that amount is reserved for Facebook’s numero 2, Sheryl Sandberg.

Per Wired, security experts speculate that Facebook’s increase from 2017 to 2018 likely has much to do with last year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal and, well… the list goes on.

» Zucks to Zuck

Outdoorsy gasses up the #vanlife trend with $50m in premium unleaded funding

Outdoorsy, a company that pairs customers with underutilized RVs and other large vehicles, is traveling toward the promised land after raising $50m in Series C funding.

Next stop, Burning Man

Founded 3 years ago, Outdoorsy is one of a handful of companies capitalizing on a global trend currently sweeping the nation: Millennials are over hotels. They want to camp while traveling, but, like, in style.

Last February, Outdoorsy raised a $25m Series B — over $75m in less than a year combined with their last round in February.

More like AirbnRV

Like Airbnb did for home-sharing, Outdoorsy has helped revolutionize the mobile housing market; van life; luxury adventure-seeking; whatever you want to call it.

It even convinced its insurance company to create a product that specifically covers the notoriously accident-prone vehicles for “basically the cost of what you’d pay for a beer each day,” says CEO Jeff Cavins.

Outdoorsy has signed up 31k vehicles to date, and with the new funding it hopes to expand into Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, as it maps its journey to one day create a full-service “recreational marketplace.”

» RV there yet?
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