Sometimes, a journey through Silicon Valley includes a few more twists and turns.
SoFi and Foursquare, two companies that were the talk of the VC town several years ago, have resurfaced with new fundings. And that's one of nine things you need to know from the past week:
1. They're backSoFi has been a major presence on VC radars since at least 2012, when the online lender raised nearly $80 million in funding at a $180 million valuation. Investors were hooked by the company's peer-to-peer model, which was designed in part to cut traditional banks out of the lending process. So they supplied it with a steady stream of cash. SoFi first attained unicorn status in February 2015; later that year, it raised $1 billion at a $3.6 billion valuation, figures even more impressive four years ago than they are today.
In the time since, though, SoFi has in some ways stagnated. Until this week, it had raised only one round of VC funding in the past four years, despite releasing a stream of new products and diversifying into areas like consumer investing and banking. A major shake-up came in 2017, when CEO Mike Cagney resigned amid charges of sexual harassment.
While other unicorns were seeing their valuations climb into the stratosphere, SoFi was simply holding steady. On Wednesday, though, SoFi made its return, unveiling a $500 million investment from the Qatar Investment Authority—the Middle Eastern nation's sovereign wealth fund—at a post-money valuation of $4.8 billion.
That means the round came at a pre-money valuation of $4.3 billion. That's below the $4.4 billion valuation SoFi attained with its prior funding, a Silver Lake-led round in 2017. It's still the sort of number most startups would kill for. But it's not what many might have predicted half a decade ago.
It's been an even longer saga for Foursquare, which originally emerged around the turn of the decade as a social app where users would share their locations with each other. The company raised more than $70 million between 2009 and 2011, seeing its valuation over that span shoot up from a mere $6.4 million to nearly $561 million. Three years later, in 2014, Foursquare raised another $77 million at a $650 million valuation.
But as the world changed, and as the internet changed, Foursquare's product grew stale. It announced a pivot in 2014, branching into the realm of discovery by helping users find local restaurants and businesses. Over time, its business model continued to shift as Foursquare realized the value of the location data its users willingly submitted, and it began to sell that data to other businesses. Around the same time, it raised a Series E that came at a $317 million valuation, a down round that lopped hundreds of millions off its on-paper worth.
But that was not the end. In what's likely a surprise to some, Foursquare is still in the business of knowing everywhere you go. And this week, it reportedly raised $150 million in new funding from The Raine Group—the company's largest investment ever—to help finance its acquisition of Placed, a competitor that uses location data to help brands track the effectiveness of their ads.
SoFi and Foursquare's latest deals were two of the biggest VC investments of the past week. They were also reminders that the startup game can be played at many different paces.