Unpacking the UBS-Wealthfront deal
Banking giant UBS announced earlier today that it will purchase venture-backed robo-advisor Wealthfront in an all-cash transaction worth $1.4 billion.
Wealthfront, which raised just north of $200 million while private, per Crunchbase data, is one of a few wealth management services that grew on the back of offering automatic investing tools to consumers. Betterment ($435 million in funding, per Crunchbase) and Personal Capital ($265 million in raised capital, according to the same data source) are other related plays.
The $1.4 billion price tag for the UBS-Wealthfront deal matters, then, as it could impact the exit values for not only other startups, but also hundreds of millions of dollars worth of invested venture capital.
It’s hard to say with complete confidence whether the sale price Wealthfront managed to command was a strong win for its backers. PitchBook data estimates that the company was worth $700 million in 2014 and $500 million in late 2017 when it raised its last known round of capital, a $75 million sum.
At those prices, the company’s exit price is a win in that it represents a 2x or greater multiple on its final private valuations. But its exit value is also parsable from a number of alternative perspectives: AUM, customers and revenue. We’ll explore each briefly to get a better grip on how the company was valued in its sale, and what UBS is getting out of the deal.
AUM, customers, and revenue
In its release, UBS said that Wealthfront has “over $27 billion in assets under management,” or AUM. That means that UBS is paying around 5 cents per dollar in AUM at the company. Is that a lot?