Quote of the week:
“Banks are crying because Silicon Valley eats their breakfast every day and we don’t want to join the whimpering party. Tech companies are our main competitor.”

–        Herman Gref, CEO and CAWO (Chief Anti-Whimpering Officer) of Sberbank

Starling takes a step closer to being a full marketplace bank
UK-based Starling Bank has received approval from regulators to add other financial products into their banking marketplace. Currently, users can use the Marketplace to switch on non-financial products like digitizing receipts, but this next step will allow customers to enter the Starling Marketplace and buy other financial products like loans or insurance from third parties. There will be different levels of integration between Starling and the various partners, but all will leverage the Open API marketplace Starling has built. Read the company’s press release here.

Timing is everything
Remember back in August, I posted about Ethereum at $300, which at the time was a 2,400% annual return. It is now trading at $720, which is about a 10,000% return from the year-ago price of $7.23. Bitcoin was around $3,400 back in August, though it now trades at $13,500. What a difference four months makes. In hindsight, the investors in Coinbase’s $100MM Series D round had pretty good timing. The round closed in August at a $1.6 billion valuation. Now Coinbase can’t even keep up with the new customers and activity levels, and the mobile app was the most popular app in the app store last week. While we are clearly in hype territory, Greylock and Battery Ventures must feel pretty good right now. While I expect 2018 to bring volatility and many people will get burned, Coinbase is really getting entrenched as the market leader in the cryptocurrency brokerage space.

Lemonade raised $120MM from SoftBank
After launching about a year ago (and raising its $33MM Series B round), Lemonade has consistently gained traction on its renter’s and homeowner’s insurance products. The company says it has already attracted over 90,000 policyholders and is live in eight states (New York, California, Nevada, Texas, Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey, and Rhode Island). On the back of this success, Lemonade has raised a $120MM Series C round, backed by SoftBank, with returning investors General Catalyst and GV (previously known as Google Ventures). This comes after SoftBank has invested in two other real estate-related startups – WeWork and Compass.