Cliff Banks - The Banks Report

Fair to Go Global with SoftBank Investment

December 20, 2018 — Fueled by a $385 million Series B investment led by SoftBank, vehicle subscription platform Fair is going global.

After officially launching in August 2017, Fair is now in 26 U.S. markets with nearly 52,000 vehicles from 3,200 dealerships available on its mobile app. More than 20,000 consumers have used the platform to select a vehicle.

Instead of purchasing a vehicle, users instead pay to access a vehicle. Users scan their license on a downloaded app to shop pre-owned vehicles. Fair runs a soft credit check to determine a monthly payment — which includes limited warranty, routine maintenance, and roadside assistance. Fair charges a startup fee to help keep monthly payments down. The user selects a vehicle and drives it for however long they want. There is no debt or long-term commitment.

Once a user selects a vehicle, Fair purchases the vehicle from the dealer or the entity selling the vehicle. Financial institutions in the automotive leasing space are beginning to place their off-lease return inventory on the Fair platform. Sometime this year, Fair will allow private sellers to place their vehicles on the platform.

The recent funding brings the total raised by founders Scott Painter and Georg Bauer to nearly $500 million in equity financing and about $1 billion in debt over the last year. The investment also will help Fair to access more debt financing, which Fair needs to be able to buy inventory. “For every dollar in equity, we unlock $10 in debt, which we’ll use to buy cars,” Painter says. Other investors in the recent raise include Exponential Ventures, Munich Re Venture’s ERGO Fund, G Squared, and CreditEase.

The investment likely pushes Fair’s valuation beyond the $1 billion level. Painter acknowledges that with the amount of money being invested, an IPO is likely in the near future for Fair. “An IPO will be a starting line for us rather than an exit,” he tells TBR.

In addition to using the money to expand into global markets, Fair plans to focus on supporting Uber’s efforts to add hundreds of thousands of drivers to its stable. Fair’s relationship with Uber, another investment for SoftBank, began earlier this year when Fair acquired Uber’s XChanging Leasing solution along with its inventory. Along with the acquisition, Fair also announced a partnership with Uber to provide vehicles to its drivers for a weekly fee. Partnering with Fair allows Uber to provide access to vehicles to thousands of drivers without leveraging its own balance sheet. “We’re one of the only solutions that provide that,” Painter says.

Fair’s deal with SoftBank is the 75th investment, acquisition or merger completed this year by vendors in the automotive retail space, a record-breaking year based on data compiled by TBR.

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