Portland banking technology startup Sila, launched by Simple’s co-founder, raises $13 million

Sila, an online banking startup from a prominent Portland technology entrepreneur, said Monday it has raised $13 million in new investment.

Privately held Sila offers a standard toolkit for software developers manage money transfers, payment processing and other regulated banking services. The company says that means developers don’t need to connect with individual banks, making it easier to enable online transactions.

“Sila’s mission has always been to make money programmable. Access to the U.S. banking system, especially for innovators and entrepreneurs, is extremely complex and prohibitive,” said Shamir Karkal, Sila’s co-founder and CEO. He said Sila’s technology is designed to facilitate money transfers in regulated industries, including real estate, insurance and investments.

Before starting Sila, Karkal had been co-founder and chief financial officer at Portland online banker Simple.

Simple, founded in 2009, was a pioneer in mobile banking and developed an enthusiastic following for its intuitive tools for managing bank accounts and saving money. But the company struggled to gain broad acceptance and was an awkward fit with its owner, the Spanish bank BBVA, which bought it for $117 million in 2014.

Simple shut down for good in May, eliminating the bulk of its 220 jobs. Karkal left Simple years earlier and started Sila in 2018.

Sila has now raised more than $20 million altogether, including a $7.7 million round last year. It did not immediately respond to an inquiry about its current headcount, but it had 14 people working in a downtown Portland co-working space in the spring of 2020.

Revolution Capital, an investment firm with offices in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., led Monday’s round. Prior backers including Madrona Venture Group and the Oregon Venture Fund participated, too.

— Mike Rogoway | [email protected] | twitter: @rogoway

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