As Clear Secure takes off with $ 4.5 billion IPO, CEO Caryn Seidman-Becker sees a ‘frictionless’ future


When Covid closures took hold last March and brought the global travel industry to a halt, Caryn Seidman-Becker was not entirely surprised. The co-founder and CEO of biometric screening company Clear Secure had watched the virus spread around the world and knew she had to prepare for a time when a quick passage through the airport security line might not be a travel priority.

“One of the advantages of aging is having a few seizures. And so, having lived through September 11 and the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, we think it’s management‘s job to look around, ”she said. Forbes Wednesday.

And so, as U.S. airline passenger volumes fell 60 percent, Seidman-Becker slashed the company’s marketing spend, tightened the operating budget, and spearheaded the development of something called Health Pass, a product. integrated that tracks users’ Covid-19 test results, vaccination status and responses to a health survey in real time.

His foresight proved invaluable: Clear Secure debuted on the public market on Wednesday, and investor appetite skyrocketed stocks upon opening. After setting the price at $ 31 per share on Tuesday night – above the $ 27 to $ 30 per share range he had targeted and giving the IPO a valuation of $ 4.5 billion – Clear’s shares opened on the New York Stock Exchange at $ 38.55 just before 11 a.m. ET, and reached $ 42.10 by noon. The stock closed at $ 40.43, a 30% gain that puts Clear’s market cap at $ 5.8 billion and gives Seidman-Becker a stake worth around $ 826 million. (The shareholding is structured like a partnership, to be fiscally advantageous for the founders.)

“I think people really started to understand the power of a secure identity platform, both in travel and beyond,” says Seidman-Becker.

Listed under the symbol “YOU” (a nod to the company’s motto: “you are you”), Clear begins life in the public market as travel approaches pre-pandemic levels, TSA processing over 2 million travelers in four of the past eight days. But while Clear is best known for its facial analysis tools which allow users to bypass long TSA queues and sees its largest member acquisition channel through airports, which generated 72% of new subscriptions in 2020 and 62% in 2019 – Seidman-Becker said on Wednesday that she hopes that one day aviation will be the smallest vertical in her business.

“We want Clear to be part of people’s daily habits, going from 12 times a year using it – that’s how people used it on average at airports – to 12 times a day,” she says. “We want to create predictable, frictionless experiences from the moment you leave your home until you arrive at your office or the theater. “

We started in the most difficult place: aviation. If it was enough to get on a plane, where identity and security are paramount, clearly – no pun intended – it would be enough to check in at the doctor’s office.

Clear Secure Co-Founder Caryn Seidman-Becker on the Future of Her Business

Clear still has some way to go to realize this vision, but it is evolving: it has achieved 5.6 million cumulative registrations in total to its $ 179 per year subscription service and a footprint that spans 38 airports (which includes nearly 60% of the total volume of TSA 2019 departures) and 26 sports and entertainment venues. Some 67 organizations, including Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group and the San Antonio Spurs AT&T Center, have pledged to use the Health Pass for employees and customers. In 2020, these initiatives generated $ 230.8 million in revenue, up 20% from 2019 (although the company recorded a net loss of $ 9.3 million, an improvement over the loss of $ 54.2 million in 2019).

“What we realized quickly last March was that there was going to be another card in your wallet, and that was your vaccine card,” Seidman-Becker said, noting that she had to carry a yellow fever vaccine card when she visited Kenya a few years ago, so the idea wasn’t an entirely foreign concept when Covid hit. The move towards a health-focused product was also not a pandemic pivot: Seidman-Becker says that before the Covid lockdowns began, the company started a pilot project at a doctor’s office in Phoenix, Arizona. , which allowed patients to use their faces to check in for appointments.

“We started in the most difficult place: aviation. If it was enough to get on a plane, where identity and security are paramount, it’s clear – no pun intended – that you just need to check in at the doctor’s office, ”she says. “We had a HIPAA compliant back end and being so focused on the security and scalability of the aviation business, that meant it was applicable to so many other businesses. “

Seidman-Becker says the plan to go beyond aviation has been part of the company since she and her business partner Ken Cornick bought it out of bankruptcy in 2010. It is noted. “And that says Clear’s aspiration was to be a secure biometric identity platform today in travel and tomorrow in verticals beyond.”

Seidman-Becker believes Covid has accelerated trends in contactless technology and consumer convenience with these tools, but some public figures are expressing concern about privacy considerations regarding the biometrics and health data Clear collects. In a May letter to Clear, Senators Jeff Merkley and Cory Booker said, “While there are potential benefits and advantages, this technology can also be used widely and passively in ways that evade awareness, the permission or ability of consumers to opt out. If overused or misused, facial recognition technology risks a state of constant and undetectable government surveillance that can track movements and associations with organizations such as schools and places of worship.

Seidman-Becker responded in June by stating, in part, “We do not conduct passive surveillance and we do not collect images of non-members.” She reiterated to Forbes that Clear “will not sell or rent your data”.

A former college reporter for the Michigan Daily (she covered The Rhythm of Sports), Seidman-Becker began his career as a junior analyst at Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder, a New York City investment store, and at 29, she had raised $ 50 million. to launch his own hedge fund, Ariance Capital. “I was very atypical,” she told University of Michigan alumni magazine in 2017, noting that she was also pregnant when the fund launched. “It was the first time someone had drawn my attention to the fact that I was different.”

By making Clear public on Wednesday, Seidman-Becker continues to operate in scarce territory: until 2021, only 20 companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange were founded and headed by women. The first half of the year IPO activity helped push that number forward: Bumble Founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd took the dating app to the public in February, FIGS founders Trina Spear and Heather Hasson launched their trendy scrub business in May, and Anne Wojcicki went public with 23andMe via SPAC on June 17.

While these statistics have not escaped Seidman-Becker’s attention, more important to her than being a woman leader is to be an entrepreneur working to help society emerge safely from a pandemic that has so changed American life.

“I wanted to keep my family, our team safe and wanted to be part of the solution,” she says. “I feel like this is my chance in the world: to make it a better place. This is how I send my kids to school every day, and being part of the solution is very empowering.

with relation by Antoine Gara


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