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Root’s IPO is riding the insurtech boom

CEO Alex Timm says investors are paying attention.

Root Insurance

Insurtech has been having a bit of a moment this year.

Image: Root

Uncertainty might be spiking around the world, but the IPOs just don't stop coming. Today, insurtech company Root went public, after raising $724 million its IPO at a $7 billion fully diluted valuation.

The listing is a remarkable turnaround from earlier this year. "When we entered into the COVID period, we actually pulled back pretty significantly on growth," CEO Alex Timm told Protocol as the company's stock listed on the Nasdaq exchange exchange today. "We didn't know, necessarily, what the world would hold for us." But as things progressed and people started taking to the roads again, Timm said the company saw a "net positive impact … both in terms of profitability and growth," setting the stage for a public market debut.

Insurtech has been having a bit of a moment this year: Lemonade shares doubled on its IPO earlier this summer, while funding for the industry reached $2.5 billion last quarter, up 69% year-on-year. "You're starting to see a lot of investors pay attention to the space," Timm said, attributing the increased interest to the "maturity of the business model." As Root's alternative underwriting model for insuring drivers has been proven out, he said, investors have realized how large the opportunity is. Root, which underwrites car insurance based on driving data picked up from smartphones, offers a fundamentally better product than traditional insurers, Timm argues. The idea is that by surcharging bad drivers, good drivers get a cheaper product — something Timm says other insurers don't offer.

Still, Root's model isn't entirely proven out yet. The company is not yet profitable, and some have raised concerns about its customer retention. But Timm brushed that off, saying that Root's retention rates were inherently lower just because it has a newer customer base, rather than loyal long-timers, and regularly adjusts its prices.

Right now, Timm's goal is to use the IPO proceeds to continue growing the business. "We are laser focused on the U.S. auto opportunity," he said, noting that the IPO provides "ample amounts of capital" to help it execute. Investors seem to believe so: Despite a broader market selloff Wednesday, Root's shares surged soon after opening, trading around 3% above their IPO price.

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