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Quiet Northwestern Mutual may be ready to make a big noise with rerelease of LearnVest -- with Alexa von Tobel vowing that innovation and integration aren't mutually exclusive goals

After the $250-million deal in 2015, the staid Milwaukee insurer has funneled funds into the jazzy robo, packed its board and taken it backstage for a makeover promised for the New Year

Author Jessica Devenyns
December 14, 2016 at 6:35 PM
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Despite a prolonged quite period, Alexa von Tobel says that her robo will 'unleash innovation' soon.

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Wealthfront cedes to four years of investors clamoring for crypto by taking on expensive third-party vendor that Betterment rules out

The Redwood City, Calif., robo-advisor turned a hard 'no' into a soft 'yes' by dealing with Grayscale and its 200 basis-point-plus fees, which its robo rival in NYC -- also without a crypto path -- finds ludicrous.

August 14, 2021 at 2:20 AM

Second Betterment exec departs as new CEO Sarah Levy orients to her first month on the job and is confronted by personnel matters

Chief operating officer Dustin Lucien is the latest to leave the New York City robo-advisor, one of at least eight positions open as it prepares a push across multiple business lines to ignite growth.

January 19, 2021 at 6:32 PM

Wealthfront's unlikely tapping of Sheila Bair and Tom Curry signals likely push to gain a bank charter, analysts say

The Redwood City robo-advisor's addition of two renowned former chief banking regulators brings legitimacy and guidance that could lead to a margin-fattening bank charter and help solve the robo-advisor's problem of high client acquisition costs.

December 31, 2020 at 4:37 AM

Jon Stein ousts himself as Betterment CEO and taps Sarah Levy, who joins an exclusive club of top women executives, with a mission -- an IPO

The co-founder of the New York robo-advisor headhunted the ex-Viacom brass through Harvard professors on the down low to ostensibly scale operations.

December 8, 2020 at 5:27 PM

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Mentioned in this article:

Portfolio Management System
Top Executive: Andy Rachleff

Technology Tools for Today
Consulting Firm
Top Executive: Joel Bruckenstein

Betterment, LLC
Financial Planning Software
Top Executive: Jon Stein



May 10, 2018 — 10:11 AM
Clever. Funny. Interesting take on the situation, and it is understandable from the perspective of over the last 5+ years there have been rivers of money to fund fintech regardless of commercial viability. LearnVest appears to be truly at the core of the company's evolution - regardless of whether the 'mission' of democratizing financial planning is fulfilled. Lest we forget that investors need a return (always happens late in the cycle), the company was going to evolve one way or the other. Take Wealthfront and the $250mm (I recall) in PE. That firm will have to be about $500B in AUM (just quick math) to ever provide a decent return, which the current valuation anticipates. At some point, the money party stops and the profits have to flow. Or, lest we forget the party of 1999, the music stops and the company shuts down.

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