BlackRock acquires minority stake in SMB 401(k) provider Human Interest •

by Ana Lopez

Investment giant BlackRock announced Friday that it is taking a minority stake in venture capital-backed fintech startup Human Interest.

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Human Interest’s digital retirement benefits platform allows users to “start a retirement plan in minutes and put it on autopilot,” according to the company. It also touts that it has eliminated all 401(k) transaction fees. The startup previously told it works with “every kind of SMB” — from tech startups to law firms, from dentists to dog walkers, to manufacturing companies and social justice nonprofits.

The San Francisco-based company has raised a total of $336.7 million in funding since its founding in 2015 by Paul Sawaya and Roger Lee. The Rise Fund, TPG’s global impact investing platform, led a $200 million round for Human Interest in August 2021 that propelled it to unicorn status. Other backers include SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Crosslink Capital, NewView Capital, Glynn Capital, US Venture Partners, Wing Venture Capital, Uncork Capital, Slow Capital and Susa Ventures. Since the first close of that round, Human Interest said in a blog post that it has seen has more than 400% growth in the number of customers and revenue. At the time of that increase, executives told that the company was targeting a traditional IPO sometime in 2023, hoping to have “$200 million+ in ongoing revenue before going public.” As of August 2021, according to the executives, it was “tens of millions of current revenues and millions of new revenues were added every month.

“BlackRock has a great team focused on providing quality retirement savings and investment opportunities. We are excited to work with BlackRock to find ways to bring retirement within the reach of millions of additional employees in the coming years,” said Jeff Schneble, CEO of Human Interest, in a written statement.

“We look forward to helping Human Interest close the access gap,” Anne Ackerley, head of BlackRock’s Retirement Group, said in a statement.

Lee, co-founder of Human Interest moved years ago, recently founded a new start-up, and launching the discharge tracker Fired.FYI shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

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