SoftBank Group Corp. has plowed $250 million into online lender Kabbage Inc., the latest in a flurry of big bets on mature startups by the Japanese technology company.
Kabbage will use the new money to expand its lending products for small businesses and, if there’s a demand, offer new products like insurance and payroll services. The startup also plans to expand to Asia. Talks with banks in India, China and Japan to license its technology are underway, Kabbage Chief Executive Officer Rob Frohwein said.
He also plans to spend the next 12 months or so positioning the company for a possible initial public offering. Kabbage expects more than $200 million in revenue in 2017, roughly double what it generated in 2015, Frohwein said.
SoftBank has jolted the venture capital industry in recent months by investing billions of dollars in late-stage startups focused on technology including ride hailing, robotics, virtual reality and a new farming method. The Kabbage deal deepens its stake in online lending. SoftBank’s venture arm invested in Kabbage in 2014 and SoftBank backed consumer lending site Social Finance Inc. in 2015.
Kabbage employs about 380 and previously raised about $250 million at a $1 billion valuation in 2015. Frohwein declined to discuss the new valuation other than to say it was more than $1 billion.
Kabbage enables small businesses to get online loans quickly and licenses its technology to banks so they can do the same. Founded in 2009 to fill the lending void created by the credit collapse, the Atlanta-based startup is similar to On Deck Capital Inc., Social Finance, LendingClub Corp. and others that use technology to quickly and cheaply evaluate creditworthiness and underwrite loans.
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