Los Angeles FinTech startup Aspiration — backed by actors Robert Downey Jr., Leonardo DiCaprio and Orlando Bloom — is weighing the possibility of filing for a public listing, Bloomberg reported on Monday (May 24) citing sources.
Founded by Andrei Cherny and Joseph N. Sanberg in 2013, the FinTech startup has a socially-conscious mission that includes charitable donations and planting trees. The company website indicates that Aspiration won’t invest in fossil-fuel projects, firearms or political campaigns. Aside from attracting Hollywood backers, investment bank Allen & Co. and eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll also invested in the company.
The sources told Bloomberg that it’s not known if Aspiration will go for a direct listing or an alternate route. Either way, it’s anticipated to happen sometime in 2021 and the company is already in talks with bankers, the sources told Bloomberg.
Aspiration has seen its user base surge to over 4 million in the past year, more than double the previous year, according to Bloomberg’s source.
The startup is also raising the minimum wage for its employees to $25 per hour, more than what is offered at the country’s biggest banks. Bank of America, for example, said it would raise its minimum rate to $25 by 2025, according to Bloomberg.
Aspiration in 2019 partnered with numerous brands to give customers 3 to 5 percent back on purchases from socially-conscious brands.
Marquee names — Gronk, A-Rod, Jay-Z, Shaquille O’Neal, Ciara Wilson — have been attached to special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) and generally add another level of enticement for investors, something that has some investment experts concerned. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) cautioned investors in March to do their homework and avoid investing in a SPAC just because it’s backed by celebrities or billionaires.
“… celebrity involvement in a SPAC does not mean that the investment in a particular SPAC or SPACs generally is appropriate for all investors,” the SEC said in its alert.