On Sunday Square announced it was gobbling up Afterpay in a deal worth $29 billion at the time of announcement. Alex followed up yesterday with more details on why the deal made sense for Square and Afterpay over here, but we wanted to ask some notable VCs what it means for the startup market.
For context, the Square deal follows a ton of money and interest flowing into the BNPL market. Just this year, VCs have invested in companies like Alma ($59.4 million, January 2021), Scalapay ($48 million, January 2021), Wisetack ($19 million, February 2021), Zilch ($80 million, April 2021) and Dividio ($30 million, June 2021).
Most of the investors we reached out to were generally bullish on the Square and Afterpay integration, but they were less excited about opportunities for other consumer BNPL businesses to emerge.
Then there’s Klarna, which raised $639 million at a post-money valuation of $45.6 billion in June, after raising $1 billion in March at a post-money valuation of $31 billion.
There’s also interest from some major public companies. After a slow start, PayPal is aggressively pushing BNPL services with merchants that offer it as a payment option. And there are reports that Apple is building its own BNPL offering through Apple Pay.
We reached out to Commerce Ventures founder and GP Dan Rosen, Better Tomorrow Ventures founding partner Jake Gibson, Fika Ventures partner TX Zhuo, and Matthew Harris of Bain Capital Ventures to see what they thought of the deal, as well as what it might mean for the opportunity for other BNPL companies and startups.
The main takeaways? “Buy now, pay later” may be effective at driving retail conversion, but scale matters and long-term margins look slim for BNPL startups.
Now, let’s hear from the venture community.
The venture view
Why is the BNPL market so hot?