Acorns acquires UK-based GoHenry, a fintech aimed at 6-18 year olds

by Ana Lopez

US-based savings and investment start-up Acorns has acquired London-based GoHenry, a startup focused on providing money management and financial education services to 6-18 year olds in an all-equity business deal, the two companies announced today.

The combined valuation of the company, as well as further financial terms, were not disclosed. When Acorns last raised money, $300 million in March 2022, it was valued at $2 billion; GoHenry has not disclosed its valuation but was believed to be valued between $250 million and $500 million in October 2022 when it raised $55 million.

The acquisition is noteworthy for a number of reasons. First, if the companies managed to keep their valuations level (valuations have been under a lot of pressure for the past six months), it would be one of the bigger M&A deals between two fintech startups, coming at a time when startups have found it very challenging to raise further funding – either from private investors or from the public markets through an IPO.

Second, it will add some new donors to the Acorns cap table. GoHenry’s investors include Edison Partners, Revaia, Citi Ventures, Muse Capital and Nexi are all of them roll over their equity in the deal.

Finally, this gives Acorns the opportunity to grow internationally, starting with GoHenry’s existing footprint in the UK, France, Italy and Spain.

The companies wouldn’t provide specific details on individual stats, saying only that the combined company will have nearly 6 million subscribers. Previous businessupdates.org coverage helps us break down the mix, but also points out that one or both have lost some users in recent times. In March 2022, CEO Noah Kerner had told businessupdates.org that the company had more than 4.6 million paying subscribers. GoHenry last October it said it had 2 million customers.

Since the start in 2012, Acorns has raised just over $500 million from investors such as private equity firm TPG, BlackRock, Greycroft, Owl Rock (a division of Blue Owl), Senator Investment Group, Torch Capital, Industry Ventures, Bain Capital Ventures, Galaxy Digital, Headline and Kevin Durant & Rich Kleiman’s Thirty Five Ventures.

Acorns joins this deal after it suffered a setback to an earlier exit plan of its own. The company originally intended to go public, and in 2021 made plans to do so through a SPAC. At the time, it had estimated revenue of $126 million for the year, according to the deck analyzed by our own Alex Wilhelm. But with the SPAC market struggling and the tech IPO market drying up at the end of 2021, Acorns wants to scrapped its SPAC IPO plans in January 2022.

GoHenry (named after its first child customer, according to the company) has raised a total of $125 million since its inception in 2012. It posted $42 million in revenue in 2021 (the last full year it reported), double what it did in 2020.

Neither Acorns nor GoHenry – both of which are 10 years old – were still profitable at the time of their latest raises.

Acorns initially targeted younger adults, particularly millennials, before later opening its first services to children. GoHenry will help it expand in that market segment. From the start, GoHenry has targeted the 6 to 18 age group, who currently use two of the company’s main services: a prepaid debit card (usually topped up by parents) and a “financial education” app that links to that card (and an app that parents can use to monitor and manage the account). Until last summer, GoHenry operated in both the UK and the US, where it had expanded in 2018. It also started serving France and Spain when it Acquired French startup Pixpay last July and in January of this year it also opened for business in Italy.

Acorns has expanded its offerings to include investment services, debt management and a product aimed at children, Acorns early which was launched in June 2020. Acorn’s Early make it easy for parents, carers, family and friends to invest in a child’s future. Prior to GoHenry, Acorns had that too purchased Vault, Harvest Platform and Pillar.

The executives of the two companies say the combined company will let them serve customers at all stages of life – from birth to retirement. Acorns claims it has helped Americans save and invest more than $16 billion since its inception, while GoHenry’s customers have saved $130 million over the past five years. The acquisition puts Acorns in direct competition with other US-based fintechs already offering debit cards to children and/or teens, including Greenlight, Step and Current.

“We’ve both been dreaming about this family financial well-being idea for a long time,” Kerner told businessupdates.org in an interview, noting that the companies have been in talks for two years. “So to be able to serve children, teens and adults holistically within one company globally is really exciting.”

GoHenry co-founder Louise Hill said she is “excited about the opportunities” the combination will unlock.

“It’s very much a shared vision/mission, looking at the interests of families and the emerging people – the common people,” she said in an interview. “It’s extremely exciting to be able to expand and offer the same approach to financial wellness to adults.”

The combined company, which offers both subscription services, has more than 700 employees. While the deal involved mostly stock, there was a “small cash consideration,” Hill said, which stemmed more from “administrative necessity than anything else.”

The decision to acquire GoHenry was not taken lightly, according to Kerner, who said Acorns evaluated “more than 100” companies worldwide.

“We are very focused on the US market with our products, but have always had the ambition to deliver globally,” he told businessupdates.org. “It allows us to accelerate that path.”

Hill said GoHenry has always had an intent to globalize as well.

“Our teams have been talking to each other for over two years and it became increasingly clear that the right path was to come together,” she said.

In the US, GoHenry will operate as GoHenry by Acorns. In the UK and Europe, GoHenry & PixPay will continue to operate under their own brand name.

As the IPO market has dried up, so have many industry observers predicted that the fintech space would see more consolidation. And so far we’ve seen a number of M&A deals in 2023.

Marqeta announced plans earlier this year acquire two-year-old fintech infrastructure start-up Wealth financing for $223 million in cash, marking the first acquisition in that publicly traded company’s 13-year history. Also in January: investment giant BlackRock announced it did acquiring a minority intereste in SMB 401(k) provider startup Human Interest; remote payroll administration part fintech acquired Capbase; Fidelity has acquired Shoobx, an asset management startup; Vouch, an insurtech focused on startups, acquired loans startup level and American Express have entered into an agreement acquire Nipendo.

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