Earlier this week, TechCrunch covered the latest venture round for AgentSync, a startup that helps insurance agents comply with rules and regulations. But while the product area might not keep you up tonight, the company’s growth has been incredibly impressive, scaling its annual recurring revenue (ARR) 10x in the last year and 4x since the start of the pandemic.
Little surprise, then, that the company’s latest venture deal was raised just months after its last; investors wanted to get more money into AgentSync rapidly, boosting a larger venture-wide wager on insurtech startups more broadly that we’ve seen throughout 2020.
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But private investors aren’t the only ones getting in on the action. Public investors welcomed the Lemonade IPO earlier this year, giving the rental insurance unicorn a strong debut. Root also went public, but has lost around half of its value after a strong pricing run, comparing recent highs with its current price.
But with one success and one struggle for the sector on the scoreboard this year, Metromile is also looking to get in on the action. And, per a TechCrunch data analysis this morning and some external data work on the insurtech venture capital market, it appears that private insurtech investment is matching the attention public investors are also giving the sector.
This morning let’s do a quick exploration of the Metromile deal and take a look at the insurtech venture capital market to better understand how much capital is going into the next generation of companies that will want to replicate the public exits of our three insurtech pioneers.
Finally, we’ll link public results and recent private deal activity to see if both sides of the market are currently aligned.
Let’s start with Metromile’s debut. It’s going public via a SPAC, namely INSU Acquisition Corp. II. Here’s the equivalent of an S-1 from both parties, going over the economics of the blank-check company and Metromile itself.
On the economics front for the insurtech startup, we have to start with some extra work. During nearly every 2020 IPO we’ve spent lots of time examining how quickly the company in question is growing. We’re not doing that today because Metromile is not growing in GAAP terms and we need to understand why that’s the case.
In simple terms, a change to Metromile’s reinsurance setup last May led to the company ceding “a larger percentage of [its] premium than in prior periods,” which resulted “in a significant decrease in our revenues as reported under GAAP,” the company said.
Ceded premiums don’t count as revenue. Lemonade, in its recent earnings results, explained the concept well from the perspective of its own, related change to its business:
While our July 1, 2020 reinsurance contracts deliver a significant improvement in the fundamentals of our business, they also result in a significant change in GAAP revenue, as GAAP excludes all ceded premiums (and proportional reinsurance is fundamentally about ceding premium). This led to a spike in GAAP gross margin and a dip in GAAP revenue on July 1 – even though no corresponding change in the scope or profitability of our business took place at midnight on June 30.
So Lemonade has shaken up its business, cutting its revenues and tidying its economics. The impact has been sharp, with the company’s GAAP revenues falling from $17.8 million in the year-ago quarter, to $10.5 million in Q3 2020.
Root has undertaken similar steps. Starting July 1, it has “transfer[ed] 70% of our premiums and related losses to reinsurers, while also gaining a 25% commission on written premium to offset some of our up-front and ongoing costs.” The result has been falling GAAP revenue and improving economics once again.
All neo-insurance companies that have provided financial results while going public have changed their reinsurance approach, making their results look a bit wonky in the short term, leaving investors to decipher what they are really worth.
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