Uplift raises $123M to bring flexible payments to the travel industry

Travel financing startup Uplift is announcing that it has raised $123 million in Series C funding.
Uplift has been relatively quiet about its business until now. Its founder and CEO is Brian Barth, who previously sold his travel startup SideStep to Kayak for $200 million.
“We’ve been exceedingly low-profile, because it’s a really good idea and we wanted to keep it a secret,” said President Robert Soderberry. “But now we’re at a size and scale where we’re ready to raise our visibility.”
Besides, he acknowledge that it would be hard to “keep a $123 million Series C financing round a secret.”
The idea is pretty straightforward: Uplift works with partners like the vacation package sites of United Airlines, Southwest and American Airlines, as well as Allegiant Travel Company and Kayak, to offer financing to travelers, allowing them to pay for their trips in monthly installments. (It has a bank partner for the loans.)
For example, Soderberry said that if a family is considering a trip to Disneyland for a price of $2,000, Uplift might be able to offer a one-year financing plan with monthly payments of $189 a month.
“We make it really easy for consumers to understand,” he said. “It’s a convenient way to book travel, it reduces the upfront cost and encourages them to book more often, which in turn drives conversion for our travel partners. It’s really a win-win.”
It’s an idea that’s spreading in retail through companies like Affirm — and in fact, Affirm has been moving into travel. But Soderberry said Uplift is is the only lending company focused entirely on the travel industry.
“Planning and purchasing travel is really different buying a mattress or a gym membership,” he said. “It’s a different kind of product and different technology.”

Max Levchin’s Affirm raises $200 million at a nearly $2 billion valuation
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