Simple: Brooklyn-born banking startup exits for $117M after Portland move

Brooklyn-born Simple is purchased by a Spanish bank for $117 million two years after defecting its HQ for Portland.

BankSimple cofounders, Joshua Reich and Shamir Karkal, in their original Brooklyn office

From the Bank Simple blog, July 15, 2013

Name a bank’s website you’re impressed by? Odds are, you aren’t impressed by any. That’s why, in 2009, Joshua Reich cofounded the company now known as Simple in 2009 (formerly, “BankSimple”), here in Brooklyn.

The team created a more reliable, sleeker and more modern banking interface and went out to find banks who were willing to sign up with them, and who would also basically let the company control everything about the bank’s online presence, according to this story from American Banker.

The story also reports that the company has now been acquired by Spanish bank, BBVA, for $117 million. The deal was announced Feb. 20. The company built a brand but found it challenging to attract paying bank clients that brought enough of a return.

Simple left Brooklyn for Portland in 2011. In the post about the move, it appears that as the company grew it had staff in New York, San Francisco and Portland. When the team decided to consolidate everyone in one place, it opted for the Pacific Northwest over remaining here.

The startup began working directly with customers in 2012. In 2013, the instigator of the company, Reich, wrote a post on the company blog looking back on the history of the company, one year after welcoming the application’s first customer.

Reich writes of the immediate future for Simple on the company blog:

Working with BBVA gives us the resources, scale, and autonomy we need to accelerate our growth while staying true to our mission.

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To achieve this, we will function as a separate business within the BBVA structure, operating in parallel with BBVA’s existing US banking operations. Furthermore, I’m remaining in my role as CEO and will be joined by the same team that built Simple over the past four years.

The American Banker offers this piece of analysis of the deal from Serge Milman, of SFO Consultants in the story: “For BBVA, the real value is in Simple‘s name and demographic. If it was after technology alone, BBVA could have built a platform in a few months for half a million dollars, Milman says.”

Simple currently has 92 employees.

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