For London to earn the coveted title of Fintech Capital of the World, there needs to be a couple of “poster boys”, the kind of names that trip off the tongue when people say things like:
“London is the Fintech Capital of the World as demonstrated by ….”
When you say things like that about Silicon Valley, the list is as long as your arm. When you say that Bangalore is the Outsourcing Capital of the World, a long list appears. When you say New York is the Investment Banking Capital of the World, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley trip off the tongue.
Today we have a good list of reasons why London should become the Fintech Capital of the World. These reasons are plausible and I detail them here. However that promise needs to become reality and people are impatient. Some big private fund raising deals will be an indication that London is on the right track, but Unicorns take time to grow. It takes 9 months to grow a baby and it still takes about 5 years to grow a Unicorn. While we are seeing amazing reduction in the time it takes to get to get over $100m in high quality annual revenue, it still usually takes at least 5 years.
The problem for London is simple:
- Most of the companies born 5 years ago were more limited in ambition for sensible reasons (early stage capital was limited and investors wanted limited ambition, lower risk plans).
- Companies born within the last 5 years need a bit longer runway. Capital is no longer a constraint, but customer revenue growth is tougher.
My definition of Unicorn is over $1 billion of market capitalization. I do not include companies that get a headline valuation over $1 billion as in “raised $100m at a $1 billion valuation” as the Fund almost certainly got Preferential Shares and they are valued differently than Common Shares (if the company was sold for $100m the next day, investors would be OK, not great but OK, but Common Shares would be worthless).
A Trade Sale over $1 billion is a great result for founders, investors and management but unless it is WhatsApp/Facebook scale, it tends to generate headlines for a day and then disappear from conversation.
That is why a public Fintech company listed in London is so critical to London being perceived as the Fintech Capital of the World.
The IPO market for Fintech is hotting up. Sorry to all my mates in London, but the activity is over the other side of the pond. The London Fintech aspiration is to be listed on NYSE or NASDAQ. Why is the aspiration not to be listed on LSE? If London really becomes the Fintech Capital of the World, one can envisage a great Fintech venture from Singapore or Mumbai or Beijing or Silicon Valley or anywhere else saying:
“If we were in any other market, we would list on NYSE or NASDAQ, but we are a Fintech company so LSE is a no-brainer”.
Which brings me back to Monetise. I first heard about Monetise on CNBC. On December 2013, Monetise was one of 5 top picks for 2014 by Lee Cooperman. That fact alone is significant. I cannot think of another Great British stock being lauded on CNBC. We would have to go back to pre-historic days to remember Hanson Trust. I paid attention because Lee Cooperman is one of the smartest investors on the planet and he was talking about a market that I understand. In October 2014, when it was gloomy in the market and there was gloomy news about Monetise, Lee Cooperman reiterated his conviction on Monetise.
Here is the problem. Check out Key Statistics for Monetise on Yahoo Finance:
Yep, nothing, nada. OK, Yahoo Finance is bad and getting worse, but you try this for any international stock; it is a problem relating to all international stocks, it is not just a Yahoo Finance problem. The data gap for international stocks will be filled by some entrepreneur will fill (if you are working on that and using XBRL please get in touch); but today it is a real hurdle.
It seems silly that something so simple to fix could be a hurdle. You might think:
“Lee Cooperman is not reliant on Yahoo Finance”.
Of course Lee Cooperman is not reliant on Yahoo Finance and neither is any institutional investor. However there is a reason that CNBC exists as a major media property. The retail investor maybe battered, bruised and derided but she/he does still exist. Listening to CNBC, the average retail investor would key Monetise into Yahoo Finance and when it comes up blank they move onto the next deal. Dig a bit deeper and you will find the stock data on Monetise.
I call Monetise a “Teenage Fintech Unicorn”. They are not quite at $1 billion, but you can see the adult inside the person who is clearly no longer a child. This is quite different from a Baby Fintech Unicorn (an early stage big ambition play with a great team and enough capital). With recent good news, Monetise may get there soon.