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Visa spends $5 billion on Plaid - see the startup's growth through its data

1 week ago by Jon Marino in Consumer

Payment processor Visa ($NYSE:V) is buying startup Plaid ($PLAID) in a deal worth more than $5 billion, an earth-shattering M&A transaction for the otherwise staid transaction processing industry. 

Plaid runs a suite of APIs that allow various payment processing companies (credit card companies, investing platforms, banks, etc.) to connect to users' bank accounts safely and securely. Put another way, it's the "plumbing" of digital transactions. And, as a growing portion of consumers spending takes place via the web, the integration of a startup like Plaid makes a lot of sense for a legacy services provider like Visa, which doesn't want to get left out of the e-commerce smartphone transition. 

Plaid's 2018 funding round was led by Kleiner Perkins web guru Mary Meeker, which valued the startup at about $2.65 billion back then. And, based on job listings, Plaid has been putting its cash to work. Job postings rose from April 1 about 60% to mid-January - which is only made more impressive when factoring in our next chart. 

In a document released breaking down the company’s rationale for the mega-deal, Visa explained that Plaid provides connection services and technology to 80% of the biggest fin-tech apps in the US; 11,000 banks or financial services firms; 2,600 fin-tech developers and more than 200 million consumers’ bank accounts. 

Plaid's headcount has grown roughly 125% since early January 2019, representing more than a doubling in a space of less than a year. So even as the company was doubling its headcount, it still grew job postings on a representative basis - meaning that even up to the eve of the Visa deal, Plaid was pursuing hyper-growth. 

Some Twitter followers matter more than others. But, for Plaid, seeing Twitter ($NYSE:TWTR) following rise about 60% since April 1, 2019, should also be seen as a vote of confidence by the consumer marketplace. This level of engagement is more typical of a hot retail brand - and bodes well for Plaid's future. 

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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Jon Marino

Jon Marino is Thinknum's finance editor, covering the impacts of alternative data on public companies and investors. Prior to joining Thinknum, Jon worked in the ...

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