For most of USV’s history, we focused on investments in North America and Europe. We are a small firm and there was more than enough opportunity in these regions. We also gravitated towards companies where it would be relatively easy to travel to board meetings. While we invested in companies that served customers outside these regions (eg, Duolingo), until recently Payjoy was the only USV investment (2016) where the business focused primarily on the developing world (although their HQ was based in SF).
Over the past number of years we’ve watched from a distance as great tech companies got started outside our traditional geographic areas. We’ve had conversations with some of these companies but never reached the stage of making an investment. That changed last year when we led a Series A round in alt.bank, based in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
alt.bank is an ambitious company that seeks to provide reasonably priced and innovative financial services to the 100 million adults in Brazil that are underbanked or unbanked. To date one million Brazilians have downloaded its Android app. alt.bank is in the bullseye of our thesis to invest in companies that broaden access to capital. Brazil’s banks are among the most profitable in the world and have largely ignored this population, contributing to the country’s income and wealth inequality chasm.
Today we’re excited to announce our partnership with alt.bank’s founder Brad Liebmann and his country manager Fabio Silva and the rest of the alt.bank team to build a groundbreaking financial services company in Brazil and other markets.
Stay tuned to this channel, we expect to be announcing more portfolio investments outside our traditional geographies. Since the onset of COVID last winter we have made more than a dozen investments without meeting teams face to face. This has changed our perspective on our ability to invest outside North America and Europe.