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Acorns hires former Amazon executive as president, says crypto investing is coming


Acorns president David Hijirida

Courtesy: Mo Osborne | Acorns

Investing and savings app Acorns has hired a former Amazon executive and fintech CEO to lead day-to-day operations ahead of the start-up’s debut as a public company, CNBC has learned.

The company is set to announce Wednesday that it named David Hijirida as president, according to CEO Noah Kerner. Hijirida started his career in strategy roles at traditional banks, spent 12 years at Amazon managing areas including global payments and advertising, and was CEO of digital bank Simple Finance from 2018 until it was shuttered in May.

Acorns is stocking up on seasoned managers ahead of its expected public listing later this year. Acorns announced that Pioneer Merger Corp. (a special-purpose acquisition company) was joining its ranks at a valuation of $2.2billion in May. Last month, it named Twitter executive Rich Sullivan its new chief financial officer.

Kerner stated that David has “a tremendous depth and breadth in financial services and technology expertise.” Kerner spoke to Kerner by phone. Hijirida has extensive experience in fintech, payment, operations, product development and more.

Kerner stated that Hijirida’s appointment will enable the CEO to concentrate on the vision of the fintech company, which includes future products, branding and operations. Acorns has more than 4 million paying subscribers and aims to reach 10 million by 2025, he said.

Noah Kerner is the CEO of Acorns.

CNBC Many start-ups can remain private thanks to easy access to capital. Acorns, however, is making it public to further its mission to build wealth. Kerner explained that Acorns has made the right decision.| CNBC

While many start-ups have been able to remain private due to ample access to capital, Acorns is going public to accelerate its mission of helping people build wealth, Kerner said. He said this would help Acorns to be more visible with potential users and allow them to target other companies, which will eventually lead to expansion outside the U.S.

Kerner compared Acorns’ business model to that of fintech and banks, which incentivize traders or spend more money. Free trading app Robinhood, which went public in July, has been under fire for relying on industry kickbacks called payment for order flow, a practice being examined by regulators.

Acorns automated investing service lets customers invest spare change from card transactions into a managed portfolio of ETFs for a monthly fee of $1 to $5.

Kerner explained that Acorns’ entire mission is to provide long-term investing opportunities for consumers. It’s the reason why Acorns’ subscription model is so crucial. This decouples business from other behaviors, such as driving lending or trading, or driving spending.

Acorns is more conservative than other fintech companies that have seen rapid growth through adding new capabilities, such as the ability to purchase bitcoins and other digital currencies. On its website, Acorns says that users currently don’t have access to cryptocurrencies because their value “can fluctuate dramatically in a day,” calling it a speculative investment.

But in the latest sign of the continuing adoption of the nascent asset class, Acorns will soon allow users to invest in crypto within diversified portfolios, Kerner said.

Kerner explained that users will be able to personalize their portfolios to include crypto and equities in a piece of their diversified portfolios. It’s similar to the way money managers would suggest you behave.

He said that it will be done within the context to educate users about the benefits of asset diversity.

Kerner stated that although a launch date has not been announced yet, it is on the horizon.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns, and CNBC has a content partnership with it.

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