- Caesar Sengupta spent 15 years at Google and was its chief payments before leaving in 2021.
- Sengupta announced his latest project, a fintech called Arta.
- Arta is backed by investors such as Sequoia Capital India and Ribbit Capital.
Caesar Sengupta is ready to unveil what he’s been working on for the past year.
The former Google payments chief, along with several other ex-Googlers, launched a so-called digital family office focused on broadening access to investments typically reserved for the ultra wealthy with the help of artificial intelligence.
The new venture is named Arta Finance, shedding the company’s stealth name, Arbo Works, and has over 140 angel investors along with capital raises led by Sequoia Capital India, Ribbit Capital, and Coatue that collectively total $90 million.
Arta grew from a team of eight to 40 people by the end of 2021. It now has 80 employees with plans to add more members to its staff.
Sengupta liked the startup to a next-generation robo-advisor, labeling it an AI-advisor instead. If robo-advisors are the Ford Model T, then AI-advisors are Tesla, he said, because the technology behaves like a “financial planner or active portfolio manager where your portfolio is being traded regularly, depending on how the markets are changing.”
“A lot of what the family offices do can actually be done using technology,” said Sengupta, who is cofounder and CEO of Arta. “Over the last three, four years, AI has made such huge strides.”
Arta pools accredited investors — individuals with $200,000 or more in net income or $1 million or more in net worth — into public stocks and private-market investments such as private equity, real estate, and venture capital funds.
The company is still experimenting with management fees, so there is not a set price yet. Its investment minimum, however, is $10,000, and customers are able to spread their assets across multiple investment funds to reach whatever desired outcome they have in mind.
Arta will also allow clients to borrow against their public-market stocks to help investors avoid a liquidity event they don’t want, something Sengupta dealt with first hand.
When Sengupta was starting his family in 2008 and needed to buy a piece of property, he said he wound up selling some of his Google stock and missing some of the market rebound that followed the post-financial crisis.
“If only I had access to a line of credit against my Google stock, I could have avoided selling that maybe for a year, maybe two years,” he said.
Sengupta left Google in April of last year with seven other Google employees to start Arta: Charles Dong, Chirag Yagnik, David Shapiro, Edward Chiang, Felix Lin, Mark Striebeck, and Zelidrag Hornung.
“This is so different from what Google does, we left and Google was extremely supportive,” said Sengupta.
Sengupta and other former Google executives on the Arta team left in the midst of a series of successes of high-ranking Google employees. For Sengupta, he said the Covid pandemic was a wake-up call for him and many of Arta’s cofounders to rethink what they were doing with their lives.
“That chapter was fantastic. We’re very grateful. But it was time for us to sort of branch out without training wheels,” Sengupta said.