Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Despite messy IPOs, there’s good reason to be optimistic about insurtech startups

It wasn’t a surprise to learn that former scooter unicorn Bird is pursuing a reverse stock split. The company isn’t treading new ground here — it isn’t the only tech firm that has IPO’d in the past couple of years to consolidate its equity in hopes of keeping its share price above $1 to avoid a delisting. Root Insurance did the same thing last August. As did Hippo, another former insurtech startup.

Root and Hippo were very much part of the trend that saw several consumer-facing insurance startups going public during the last venture boom, as were MetroMile and Lemonade. Since their IPOs, most of these companies’ track records on the public market have been suboptimal, to put it mildly.

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Valued at around $6.8 billion in its IPO, Root is today worth a mere $67.2 million, per Yahoo Finance. Hippo and MetroMile went the SPAC route, and both saw their values decline precipitously afterward: Hippo is worth $440 million today compared to its post-combination market cap of more than $5 billion, and MetroMile wound up selling to Lemonade for less than $145 million worth of stock in its new parent company.

Not all of this cohort has done poorly, though. Lemonade went public at $29 per share, and its shares are trading at just over $16 today. It’s by far the best performer of the group.

But insurtech has persisted, stubbornly showing a few signs of life despite the carnage. Earlier this year, Duck Creek, which makes enterprise software for insurers, was taken private for $2.6 billion by private equity firm Vista Equity Partners. And, just a few months ago, TechCrunch+ spoke to a half-dozen investors in the insurtech space who shared more than a few thoughts on where tech could profitably intersect with the larger insurance market.

After parsing recent venture data, reexamining venture interest in light of new market conditions and a number of recent funding rounds, we’ve come to the conclusion that the market for insurance-focused startups is actually not moribund. It’s simply smaller and, perhaps, more intelligently focused than before. Let’s examine.

There’s some bulls in this house

First, we should clarify that the investors we talked to haven’t lost interest in insurtech startups, even when this is only one of several categories their funds invest in. “We are still bullish on insurtech and we have been active in 2023,” said Hélène Falchier, a partner at fintech-focused fund Portage, for example.

Yet, the sector hasn’t been spared the devastation caused by the broader downturn. “It’s been a turbulent few months for all tech sectors, including insurtech,” said Stephen Brittain, director and co-founder of Insurtech Gateway.

Despite messy IPOs, there’s good reason to be optimistic about insurtech startups by Anna Heim originally published on TechCrunch

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