Morgan Stanley is shelling out $900m to acquire Solium, which manages the stock that corporate employees receive as part of their pay. Solium's 3k corporate clients have 1m employees and included startups such as Stripe and Instacart.
That it comes in stock-plan administration, an unglamorous and humdrum business, reflects sweeping changes in the decade since. Higher-octane businesses such as securities trading are less lucrative and less valued by shareholders, who instead want steadier, subscription-like businesses that will do well in hot markets and cold. Solium’s 3,000 corporate clients have one million employees and include startups such as payments firm Stripe Inc. and delivery service Instacart Inc., whose workers tend to be younger and have fewer relationships with banks. The luckiest will become millionaires overnight if their companies go public. Others could get wealthier over time and buy houses, plan for retirement and invest in the market. Chief Executive James Gorman is betting he can convert them into clients of Morgan Stanley, whose wealth arm manages $2.3 trillion for 3.5 million American households.