Jason WIlk

Jason WIlk

Mid-city based Dave Inc. launched last April as a personal budgeting app, competing in a crowded mobile banking space.

The year-old company seems to have carved out a foothold, announcing last month a $13.3 million Series A round, led by venture firm Section 32 and investor Mark Cuban, who also took a seat on the board.

Dave Inc.’s menu of services is linked to users’ checking accounts, and recently added a feature that automatically transfers up to $75 when one is at risk of overdraft fees. Dave Inc. gets paid back automatically when the user gets his or her next paycheck. The transfer is akin to an interest-free $75 loan to avoid overdraft charges, something 39 million Americans faced in 2017.

Dave Inc. has 27 employees and 500,000 users who pay $1 a month for the service, according to Chief Executive and co-founder Jason Wilk. Wilk said 70 percent of their users are in college or college educated, and between ages 18 and 34.

“Our three founders over-drafted our bank accounts quite often in college,” Wilk said. “This was a pretty low-hanging fruit problem we thought we could solve with technology.”

Wilk said the two main reasons people accrue overdraft fees are a lack of awareness of their upcoming bills, as well as coming up short just days before payday.

“Overdraft fees cost Americans tens of billions of dollars every year,” Wilk said. “With these enhancements, consumers can avoid these costly charges and be in a better position to manage their finances.”

Wilk added the company has saved users $10 million in overdraft fees since inception.

There are many other personal finance apps, but no one else is doing the hybrid approach of budgeting along with overdraft protection, according to Wilk. He said the long-term goal is to replace commercial banking apps, and they are thinking about competing directly with banks themselves.

L.A. Tech Jobs Up

Los Angeles County added 5,690 tech jobs in 2017, bringing the total to 501,900, according to a report published by the non-profit Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).

The total represents 7.4 percent of the overall Los Angeles workforce, and cuts across 14,798 firms.

The report shows the average tech wage is $119,270 compared to the $60,950 average for the workforce as a whole. Overall, the study estimates the tech industry has an economic impact of $80.9 billion, representing 9.4 percent of the L.A. economy.

Only New York City has more tech workers with 664,800. San Francisco has the fourth most at 375,000 workers, with San Jose at fifth with 365,600.

The CompTIA study includes not just workers in the technology industry itself, but those working in information technology, network engineering, software development and related roles for non-tech companies.

California represents 25 percent of all people on the technology sector payroll in the nation, according to the study.

Smart Like a Fox?

Foxconn Technology Co. Ltd.’s purchase of Santa Monica-based Belkin International Inc. last month could raise the Taiwanese manufacturer’s U.S. profile and brand distribution, according to some in the venture capital community.

The $866 million acquisition of Belkin gives Foxconn, which is best known for making Apple Inc.’s iPhone, name brands such as Linksys, Wemo and Phyn.

“Foxconn needs brand and distribution in the U.S.,” said William Hsu, managing partner and co-founder of Mucker Capital. “They can’t be a contract manufacturer forever. That’s a low margin business with a limited lifespan.”

Belkin’s revenue was just $789 million in 2017, with $4.7 million in profits, according to Bloomberg. The company reportedly had $1.5 billion in revenue and lost $1.7 million loss the year before, a trend line that indicates Foxconn is taking on a troubled asset.

The drop off in revenue might not be the only hurdle for the manufacturer, either.

President Donald Trump recently nixed Broadcom Ltd.’s $177 billion acquisition bid for San Diego-based rival Qualcomm Inc., citing national security. Although the Belkin deal could also be subject to approval from the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment, there is belief that Foxconn’s plans to build a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin might dissuade the Trump administration from intervening like it did with the Broadcom deal.

Foxconn has been upbeat in its public statements about the deal, although the company did not respond to a request for comment.

“Integrating Belkin’s best-in-class capabilities and solutions into (Foxconn), we expect to enrich our portfolio of premium consumer products and accelerate our penetration into the smart home,” Sidney Lu, chief executive of Foxconn subsidiary Foxconn Interconnect Technology Ltd., said in a statement.

Chet Pipkin, founder and chief executive of Belkin, will stay on and continue to operate Belkin as a subsidiary of Foxconn. Belkin declined to comment on the deal.

Staff reporter Eli Horowitz can be reached at ehorowitz@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 556-8335.

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