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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton, the historians behind popular Facebook page Lost Kootenays, are set to release a book of the same name and have just unveiled its cover showing the ghostly Hotel in Slocan City shortly before its 1953 demolition. Photo courtesy of Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton.
Popular historical Facebook page Lost Kootenays set to release book

128-page hard copy documenting history of East and West Kootenays coming this fall

Revelstoke’s Mayor Gary Sulz getting his COVID-19 vaccination on April 5. (Jocelyn Doll - Revelstoke Review)
Revelstoke is leading B.C.’s interior on vaccinations: Interior Health

Approximately 70% of the community has first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services responded to a fire at the Revelstoke Community Energy Corporation site Feb. 11, 2021. It was the fourth fire at the facility since it was built in 2005. (Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services photo)
Future uncertain for City of Revelstoke owned company

RCEC is using a backup system to provide heating after a fire forced the facility offline

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

City of Vernon Coun. Dalvir Nahal proposed two blocks of Main Street be closed to bolster recovery for downtown businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Vernon’s ‘support local’ Main Street closure would cost city $24K, staff say

Bylaw costs, loss of parking revenue and equipment logistics behind price tag

Five properties have been added to the Lake Country fire protection zone, after council moved to expand the local service area Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Google Maps)
Lake Country expands fire protection zone, covering 5 exposed properties

The properties petitioned to join the local service area after being left out ‘for reasons unknown’

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

VSAR’s Air Rescue One unit assisted in a rescue in West Kelowna May 3, 2021. (VSAR screenshot)
VIDEO: VSAR’s Air Rescue One team assists in West Kelowna Rescue

The Vernon Search and Rescue helicopter team pulled off a successful rescue Monday

Peachland resident and cleanup volunteer Lloyd Stinson Sotas holds up a discarded TV riddled with bullet holes. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
PHOTOS: Peachland residents clean up community watershed

More than 70 people gave back to Mother Earth by assisting with the cleanup

Officials are surveying the streets of Vernon to get a better sense of the issue of homelessness in the city, as part of the province’s point-in-time homeless count for 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Province conducts homeless count in Vernon

It’s the first time Vernon has been included in the provincial homeless count

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Most Read