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Next Insurance Inc., a startup that offers insurance to small-business owners, recruited a former
executive as its next chief financial officer.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company said
took over as CFO last month after around two years as vice president of finance with Airbnb, where she oversaw finance for the company’s hosting, guest experiences and marketing divisions. Before joining Airbnb, which went public in December 2020, she worked for 15 years in various senior-level roles at digital payments company
including as CFO of the company’s Venmo and Braintree businesses.
Next Insurance has raised $881 million from investors since its founding in 2016, including most recently a $250 million round in March that valued the company at $4 billion. The company doesn’t have immediate plans to pursue a public listing but said it could do so at a later point in time, Chief Executive Guy Goldstein said.
Among Ms. Gouneva’s priorities in her new job is to assess the company’s accounting processes and look for ways to support its growth in the years ahead, she said. Next Insurance plans to expand by offering tailored insurance policies to new industries and by offering insurance through partnerships with software platforms whose customers include small businesses. For instance, it currently offers insurance through
a restaurant software provider.
Next Insurance is one of many insuretech startups that aim to digitize the industry by selling insurance directly to customers online. Large insurers that serve commercial customers mostly work through agents and haven’t historically made their products easily accessible online, said Kimberly Harris-Ferrante, a vice president and analyst at research and advisory firm
That business model suits big corporate customers, but small businesses often find it difficult to navigate, she said.
Startups such as Next Insurance have catered to small-business clients by offering digital products that are tailored to certain industries, such as restaurants, she said. “They’ve realized that small-business owners look and feel and operate more like a consumer,” Ms. Harris-Ferrante said.
The company, which isn’t profitable yet, generated $650 million in gross written premiums in 2021, up from $200 million in 2020, it said.
Next Insurance has about 300,000 customers in all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., more than double the number it had at the end of 2020, the company said. It last year acquired digital insurance company AP Intego for an undisclosed amount.
Ms. Gouneva succeeded Michelle Cheung, who was Next Insurance’s CFO for nearly four years. Ms. Cheung now serves as the company’s chief corporate officer, where she leads its legal, human resources and operations divisions.
In Ms. Gouneva, Next Insurance hired an executive who has worked in the finance function at companies that have made the transition from fast-growing startups into established public companies, said
a general partner at venture-capital firm Battery Ventures. The firm was one of several investors, including Founders Circle Capital and FinTLV Ventures, that participated in Next Insurance’s March 2021 funding round.
Write to Kristin Broughton at [email protected]
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