By Chloe Aiello
Fair Financial is riding high on its recent $385 million round of funding. Founder and CEO Scott Painter is even willing to bet the used-car-subscription startup will go public down the line.
"In most cases, I think it is really foolish to set a target that says, 'we are going to be a public company,' but in Fair's case, there is quite literally just so much money involved," Painter told Cheddar on Friday. "It will have to be a public company sooner rather than later."
Fair buys used vehicles from dealerships and allows its users to rent them through an app for a fee. It is making a big bet that the future of mobility is a service for cars that looks a little like what Netflix ($NFLX) has done for video content, or Spotify ($SPOT) for music.
"We are living in a world where almost everything we do is on our phone and everything that we get access to ー whether our data, our music, our movies ー it all comes in the form of a no-commitment, online or digital contract, where you can get it on a month-to-month or a subscription basis," Painter said. "What we are really seeing in automotive is this emergence of the car-as-a-service."
The company currently operates in 25 cities across 15 states, and plans to use its new funding to scale up even more rapidly ー "into every city in the U.S." over the next year, Painter said, as well as thinking internationally. The company has managed to scale so quickly in part because of its partnership with Uber.
Fair acquired Uber's subprime auto-leasing business earlier this year, according to The Wall Street Journal. The companies have a deal that lets Uber drivers access Fair vehicles. Painter said drivers who drive often enough can fully fund their vehicles through Fair.
Uber and rival Lyft are gearing up to go public in 2019, which is shaping up to be a big year in tech and mobility IPOs. Painter is very confident about Fair's future on the public markets, saying "we are running the company today as if we are going to be a public company tomorrow." But he stopped short of establishing any sort of time-frame for his goal.
"It doesn't mean that we have any kind of a short-term horizon ー we are not looking for immediate liquidity," Painter said.
"I think we've got a lot of work to do at Fair," he added.