Chicago's new unicorn: $325M Series E values Avant at over $1B

by Sam Dewey
September 30, 2015

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Avant is winning the race to become Chicago’s fastest growing startup, but those aren’t horses pulling its chariot.

They’re unicorns.

Founded in 2012, the Chicago-based online lender announced a Series E funding round this week which came in at $325 million. The transaction is set to close sometime in October.

That influx of capital has officially ushered Avant into the billion-dollar ‘unicorn’ club, with sources like the Wall Street Journal scoring that valuation closer to $2 billion.

“Avant is serving unmet demand on a global scale and providing millions of consumers with access to responsible credit in a clear and timely manner. We are proud of Avant’s tremendous growth over the last three years and continue to believe in the power of technology to innovate and improve the customer experience,” said Al Goldstein, Chief Executive Officer of Avant, in a statement.

Global equity firm General Atlantic — which has formerly invested in tech A-listers like Uber and Airbnb, led the round. The firm’s managing director, Jonathan Korngold, said in a statement that Avant is “uniquely capable of serving the large, non-prime consumer finance segment in a fair and transparent manner.”

J.P. Morgan, Balyasny Asset Management, Tiger Global, and August Capital also contributed, bringing its total funding raised to $1.7 billion.

Avant provides installment loans and lines of credit to middle-class borrowers with scores just below prime, but at higher interest rates. The company — which makes loans directly to consumers using machine-learning algorithms to assess risk — has already issued more than 310,000 loans worldwide.

The company has offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, and London and employs about 750 people. Earlier this month, Avant announced it was expanding its services to Canada.

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