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Bilt raises $200m at a $3.1b valuation, adds Ken Chenault to board

Illustration of a repeating pattern of houses made out of hundred dollar bills.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Bilt Rewards, which offers credit cards for renters, has doubled its valuation to $3.1 billion and added former American Express CEO Ken Chenault to its board of directors.

Why it matters: This is a mega up round for a consumer-facing fintech — one of the most beaten-down sectors of venture capital in recent years.

Driving the news: Bilt raised $200 million in the round led by General Catalyst. Other investors included Eldridge, Left Lane Capital, Camber Creek and Prosus Ventures.

  • Along with the funding, General Catalyst chairman and managing director Ken Chenault is joining Bilt's board of directors.
  • NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is also joining the board as an independent director.

Of note: Chenault once served as chairman and CEO of American Express and currently sits on the boards of Airbnb, Berkshire Hathaway and Chief.

  • He has also served on the boards of IBM, P&G and Facebook.

Between the lines: Though known as a card company, most of Bilt's revenue does not come from interchange, CEO Ankur Jain says. A popular source of income from consumer fintechs in the past, interchange-based models have fallen out of favor in recent years.

  • Instead, Bilt earns revenue from processing payments for apartment buildings, acting as a loyalty program for merchants, and some interchange (that largely gets kicked back as rewards) from its co-branded card.
  • Buildings partnered with Bilt, meanwhile, earn a certain percentage of the consumer's spending, even beyond rental payments.
  • Notably, the company allows buildings to take payments via check, cash and debit, as well as credit through its platform.

Context: The New York-based startup, which offers rewards points to users paying their rent through its platform, says it reached EBITDA profitability in 2023.

  • It also says its members spend nearly $20 billion annually on its platform.
  • Bilt offers a co-branded credit card consumers can use to earn points on other purchases. Bilt points can be used to book travel or fitness classes or to shop on Amazon, or they can be redeemed for credits toward rent.

Flashback: Bilt last raised $150 million at a $1.5 billion valuation in October 2022.

What's next: The company plans to expand into condos and mortgages. It also plans to grow its network of merchants.

  • "We're focused on really expanding our loyalty platform," says Jain. "That's why Ken joined, because he built that for American Express."
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