Trust Stamp to file for €29M IPO in Ireland, delayed SenseTime offering may face long wait
An authentication and a biometrics provider have each been planning initial public offerings on different continents, but one is expected to go ahead, while the future of another looks increasingly uncertain.
U.S.-based Trust Stamp is planning an IPO to the Euronext Dublin exchange later this year at a valuation of €29 million (US$32.4 million), or €7 (roughly $7.80) per share, CEO Gareth Genner has confirmed to the Irish Independent.
Trust Stamp has operated for five years and has 47 employees. The company offers EgHash technology to prevent fraud and enable identity verification for undocumented individuals with biometrics. The proceeds of the listing will fund the acquisition of niche tech partners in the U.S. and Europe, according to the report. New equity, however, will only be issued after the share price grows.
“We would not be willing to issue new equity at this price,” he said. “When we issue new equity for acquisitions, before the end of 2020, it will be at a significantly higher value.”
The company announced a successful beginning to a Series A funding round just last month, raising $1 million in two days.
Genner says Trust Stamp had planned to list in New York, but found it easier to launch the IPO in Europe, and he credits Euronext Dublin’s head of listing with helping convince the company to proceed in Ireland.
The planned IPO would be the first in Ireland during 2020, according to the Independent. Trust Stamp also has plans to hire a country director for Ireland, and open a local research and development centre, though it does not have a footprint in the country as of yet. The company is opening a new research and development facility in Malta this week, backed by a €1 million ($1.1 million) grant from that country’s government, which it expects to house 20 biometrics, AI and ML experts by the end of 2020.
Synchrony, which provides credit cards issued by stores, was the company’s first major equity investor, followed by Mastercard, which supported Trust Stamp with its 2018 accelerator program, and holds an observer position on its board. Trust Stamp also recently named a pair of former GCHQ technology leaders as advisors.
Anonymous sources suggest funding challenges for SenseTime
Just months after SenseTime postponed its plans for a blockbuster IPO on the Hong Kong exchange, Digitimes is reporting that the company will have difficulty going public due to the ongoing trade hostility between China and the U.S., and the effects of the coronavirus epidemic, citing industry sources.
When it mothballed its IPO plans in March the company said that it would raise $1 billion in private funding. SenseTime has the highest market value of any AI startup in China, according to the article, but the firm’s inclusion on the Entity List could make a lucrative IPO impossible.
Further, SenseTime may find funding supply highly competitive, with other domestic AI firms like CloudWalk, Megvii, Yitu and iFlyTek all now on the U.S. restricted list. CloudWalk just raised $250 million, and is reported to be going ahead with its IPO plans. With the country’s government shifting away from a target growth rate for the first time, however, there may not be enough credit in the system to support each company’s ambitions.
SenseTime raised $1 billion in a Series D funding round in 2018.
The company continues to find applications in the domestic market, as a new “intelligent patrol screen” has been launched to SenseTime smart city platform SenseFoundry to monitor bicycle parking, litter and gathering crowds, Abacus reports.
The AI system alerts city staff if a problem is detected, and apparently haphazardly-parked shared bikes are a significant issue in dense cities like Shanghai. Groups of bicycles can provide a challenge to computer vision systems, but SenseTime claims to have developed a way for the system to spot a shoddy parking job.
The company also plans to add features for detecting other urban issues, like water accumulation, or people hanging their clothes to dry in violation of local regulations.