SoFi to acquire payment software company Galileo for $1.2 billion

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  • Personal finance start-up SoFi has agreed to buy Utah-based payment processor Galileo for $1.2 billion. 
  • Deal talks began before “things got challenging,” but they were able to continue despite the coronavirus slowdown, SoFi CEO Anthony Noto says.
  • Galileo has been around for a decade longer than its acquirer and works with many of SoFi’s competitors.

CBNC: Anthony Noto, CEO of SoFi MM 181129 3Anthony Noto, CEO of SoFi Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Personal finance start-up SoFi has agreed to buy payments software company Galileo for $1.2 billion.

The cash-and-stock deal will help the companies launch new products, expand internationally and capitalize on consumers’ shift to digital finance, according to the CEOs of both companies.

SoFi CEO Anthony Noto said that a shift to digital has been accelerated by the coronavirus shutdown as people lose access to physical bank branches. 

“It’s the right time to do something like this — we’re on the precipice of a transition to digital from physical finance,” Noto told CNBC in a phone interview. “It’s going to serve people in this environment and the need for mobile financial services is only going to accelerate.”

Galileo has been around for a decade longer than its acquirer. The Salt Lake City, Utah-based software company connects banks to credit card processors through APIs, or application programming interface software. The two companies first started working together early last year when SoFi began using Galileo as its payments processor for SoFi Money.

Deal conversations began before “things got challenging” due to coronavirus, but they were able to continue despite the current economic slowdown, according to Noto and Galileo CEO Clay Wilkes. 

Galileo’s customers are SoFi’s competition

Galileo also works with many of SoFi’s competitors, including Robinhood, Chime, Monzo, Revolut, Varo and TransferWise.

Wilkes, who will stay on as Galileo’s CEO, and Noto said the companies will operate independently. But it’s possible some fellow fintechs would balk at a competitor owning their software partner. Still, the CEOs said the deal is likely to benefit Galileo customers by helping them expand into new product lines, such as lending.

“We see product road maps that have big gaps in them that can easily be filled with the products SoFi has developed,” Wilkes said. “Now is a good time to do this.”

SoFi — last valued at $4.8 billion — has attracted investments from Softbank, Qatar Investment Authority, venture capital investor Peter Thiel and Silver Lake, among others. It launched in 2011 with student-loan refinancing and has since expanded to personal and mortgage loans, refinances, wealth management as well as a credit card and a cash account, and stock and cryptocurrency trading. 

The deal is comprised of $75 million in cash, $250 million in seller financing debt and $875 million in company stock,  according to people familiar with the negotiations who asked not to be named because details were not disclosed. 

Elsewhere in Silicon Valley, deal flow appears to be slowing down. Multiple venture capital investors are telling portfolio companies to tighten their belts and “survive” the current economic slowdown. More than 12,000 start-up employees have been laid off since March 11, according to one real-time tracker

Noto, Twitter’s former chief operating officer and a former managing director at Goldman Sachs, said the two fintechs are “stable and performing well” during an unprecedented time for the U.S.

“Every industry is getting impacted and it’s hurting every person in the U.S. right now: They need access to money and financial services now more than ever,” Noto said. “Both companies are doing really well despite the challenging environment.”

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