Ten years after the launch of his start-up, Kristo Käärmann continues to wear a simple T-shirt, the mandatory uniform of the tech world, but he is now a billionaire. The Estonian founder of Wise, a British international money transfer company, announced on Thursday (June 17th) the initial public offering of his company.
At the last fundraising, in spring 2020, it was valued at 5 billion dollars (4.2 billion euros). Today, the British press speculates on a valuation of 9 billion pounds sterling (10.5 billion euros). For him, the British capital has always been the natural place for this type of “fintech”. “London is a great place to go public or raise funds. Our investors are international, they know London and its rules, are comfortable here… ”
In 2011, Mr Käärmann, an Estonian living in London, wanted to send money to his country, but was annoyed at the slow transfer times and the exorbitant price of commissions. He co-founded Wise. Today, the company employs 2,400 people, of which nearly 400 are in London, and transferred £ 54 billion for 6 million customers in 2020. Its turnover reaches £ 421 million, with a net profit of 30.9 million pounds.
New record amounts raised every year
Brexit? At most, this raised concern, just after the referendum of June 2016. “This raised two questions: one on regulation, the other on access to the hand–of work “, explains Mr. Käärmann. For regulation, Wise had to apply for a license in Belgium to be present within the European Union. “But we ask for three or four licenses a year around the world, and we know how to do it. “ A few dozen hires were made in Belgium, but, at the scale of Wise’s growth, it was a detail. As for the European employees present in London, they did not flee en masse.
Mr. Käärmann’s story is no exception. In 2020, the United Kingdom largely remained the leading country in Europe in terms of fundraising in the new technologies sector. According to the KPMG firm, $ 16.4 billion of venture capital has been invested in the country, against $ 7.2 billion in Germany, $ 6.9 billion in France and $ 5.9 billion for the Nordic countries as a whole. . Year after year, new record amounts have been raised. The official exit from the single European market on 1is January did not change anything: the first quarter was yet another record, with $ 7.1 billion in venture capital. “Brexit hardly seems to have had an impact on investor appetite”, says Bina Mehta of KPMG.
You have 36.2% of this article left to read. The rest is for subscribers only.