Europe’s biggest rival to US payments giant Stripe, Checkout.com, has slashed the internal tax value of its shares by 15%, according to people familiar with the matter. This marks its second internal downgrade in seven months.
The payments startup notified employees of the change last week, according to an email seen by Sifted.
The price at which current and former Checkout.com employees can exercise their stock options — known as the strike price — had been reduced to $55 a share, down from $65 a share at the last downgrade, four sources said. It’s a cut that implies a new internal valuation of around $9.35bn for the company.
Checkout.com already cut its internal valuation to $11bn in November last year. This fresh cut represents a 77% drop from the $40bn valuation that investors gave the payments company at its last funding round in January 2022.
“The tech sector at large has been adversely affected by the macroeconomic environment and rising interest rates,” Checkout.com’s chief people officer Kerry Van Voris wrote last week in the email, seen by Sifted.
“While this may appear negative, it actually offers the opportunity to capture more financial upside over time for newly issued shares at a lower strike price, hence a good thing,” Voris wrote.
When a startup lowers its internal valuation, it allows it to offer employees equity at a lower price — something that other growth stage companies like Stripe and Instacart have also done in the past few months.
But Checkout.com’s internal valuation reset also serves as another indication of how much growth-stage startups’ investor-assigned valuations may be out of sync with their current market value, amid a global funding squeeze.
“Resetting our 409a allows us to grant new equity at a more favorable strike price,” a spokesperson for Checkout.com told Sifted. “Given we continue to see healthy growth across both volume and revenue globally, we want to make sure that our employees can take part in the upside.”
A 409a is often referred to as the tax valuation of a company — an independent assessment of a private company’s fair market value that allows it to price its shares.