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PrimaryBid: Expanding to the US in 2023 and enabling Chelsea fan ownership

CEO and co-founder of PrimaryBid Anand Sambasivan sat down for an ask me anything on everything from wanting to own a part of Chelsea to expanding to the US in 2023.

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After a “fantastic” expansion in France, PrimaryBid is looking to continue expanding across the continent and then to the US in 2023, the company’s CEO and co-founder shared today.

Sitting down at the AltFi Festival of Finance, Anand Sambasivan shared the company’s plans moving forward and how things have changed since the startup has grown from 15 to almost 200 employees.

PrimaryBid, which aims to democratise the public equity markets by allowing retail investors to buy shares in IPOs and other fundraisings, is all about access to public markets, Sambasivan said.

“We all know that the IPO stands for an ‘initial public offering,’ but it seems like a lot of times people think it stands for ‘important people only’,” he said.

“And we think about the public markets, which were first built for individuals and individuals get left behind a lot, so we built a platform to equalise that.”

Reflecting back on the start of the pandemic, Sambasivan shared that it was a scary time for the company.

Having just completed a Series A raise, they were encouraged to take a step back and conserve money while just waiting to see how things would play out, but Sambasivan was not convinced.

“Something in me said, ‘I’m not sure that’s the right strategy because companies are going to have to raise money now. And individuals are going to get even further left behind, the public’s going to be left behind,’ and that’s almost exactly what happened,” he said.

“We saw this wave of recapitalisations – Ocado, Compass, FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 all over the place, and coupled with an incredible public support of equities, and these two cohorts couldn’t access each other, couldn’t talk to each other.

“And I feel like that’s when we as a company really found our voice. I describe us as part high tech company, part regulated, responsible financial institution and part activist for public inclusion and public markets. And that really came into its own.”

When thinking about the future of the company, Sambasivan shared his feeling that PrimaryBid should be the norm, that he wants to almost “disappear”.

“What I’m trying to say is that right now we’re an activist in public inclusion. We’ve made a lot of headway in that space and I think we really changed the momentum in the capital markets,” he explained.

“I want to get to a point where it’s just normal, it’s not a big deal. The inclusion of individuals in public markets should have always been the case. I want to be the company enables that globally. I think we want 100 per cent market share in the public market around deals done.”

Touching on the recent news about the company’s desire to get involved with ensuring fan ownership with Chelsea FC, Sambasivan said PrimaryBid has been called by a number of consortiums trying to buy the football club that want to know how they can use their technology to enable this.

As a Chelsea supporter himself, this is something close to Sambasivan’s heart.

“Fundamentally, I’m a big believer in public equities,” he explained.  

“I think it’s a security that is purpose-built for public ownership. It’s got regulatory scrutiny around it, it’s got robust controls, it’s got transparency and it’s got an incredible secondary market that’s readily available as and when you might need it whereas private companies don’t have that.

“So when Chelsea comes to us and says 'Hey look, we’d like to have a potential exchange for fans to participate in buying and selling,' we like that. That’s the kind of tech we do. But the second bit about Chelsea is that it’s as powerful a community ownership story as it could ever be and that’s really what attracted me. I’m a supporter myself and I selfishly want to own some of the club and pass it down to my kids and be part of that story.”

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Anand Sambasivan

CEO and Co-founder


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