Goldman Is Close to Buying Personal-Finance Startup Clarity

  • Bank is boosting efforts to do more business with consumers
  • Firm’s Marcus online unit has originated $2 billion in loans
Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, June 3, 2014. \"It\'s not a bad thing to be intimidated, but instead of paralyzing you it should prepare you to overprepare, to rehearse,\" Blankfein said, describing advice he would give to entrepreneurs. Photographer: Scott Eells

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is in discussions to acquire personal-finance startup Clarity Money, with plans to fold it into its Marcus online lender, according to people familiar with the matter.

A deal hasn’t been finalized and could still fall through, the people said, asking not to be identified because the talks are ongoing. The agreement would be subject to regulatory approval, according to one of the people.

Goldman Sachs is stepping up efforts to do more with consumers nearly a decade after its conversion into a bank allowed it to accept retail deposits. The firm’s Marcus unit, which began making personal loans on the internet in 2016, has originated more than $2 billion and the firm is looking for ways to expand that reach.

Spokesmen for Goldman Sachs and Clarity declined to comment.

Goldman Sachs earlier acquired Oakland, California-based credit-card startup Final, which offered customized card numbers to cut down on fraud. It has also partnered with Intuit Inc., the maker of financial and tax-management software, to offer loans to customers.

Adam Dell

Goldman Sachs’s foray into personal financial-management software follows other online lenders. Prosper Marketplace Inc. acquired BillGuard in 2015, renaming it Prosper Daily, while Capital One Financial Corp. bought Level Money the same year. Both firms have since shuttered the operations.

Clarity is an app founded by Adam Dell, the brother of Michael Dell. It uses artificial intelligence to help consumers make better financial decisions by canceling or lowering bills, finding a better credit card or creating a savings account.

The New York-based startup most recently raised $11 million in March 2017 led by Citigroup Inc.’s venture capital arm, Citi Ventures. It has amassed about $15 million to date at an undisclosed valuation. Investors include George Soros, Sherpa Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, Abstract Ventures and others, according to data website Crunchbase. The firm, which started just over a year ago, has about 50 employees and more than 500,000 users.

Goldman Sachs has expanded its loan offerings as part of a growth plan outlined in September by Co-President Harvey Schwartz. Under the plan, lending will account for at least 40 percent of $5 billion revenue growth in the next three years. In October, the bank bought Los Angeles-based Genesis Capital LLC to offer bridge, construction and renovation loans of less than $100,000 to more than $10 million to developers who buy, renovate and sell residential real estate, according to its website.

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