Trouble In Paradise: Lending Club And Prosper

By Mark Roderick CrowdFunding Beat  Sr. contributing editor and crowdfunding attorney with Flaster/Greenberg PC.

Lending Club and Prosper are going through a rough patch. Renaud Laplanche, the CEO and founder of Lending Club, just resigned amid allegations of financial irregularities, while Prosper recently laid off more than a quarter of its employees.

But those are only the ripples on the pond’s surface. What’s going on underneath is that Wall Street is losing faith in the business model – that is, losing faith in the quality of the loans made on the Lending Club and Prosper platforms.

Not long ago, Wall Street financial institutions couldn’t get enough of Lending Club and Prosper loans. Now the same institutions are cutting back and the effect is severe.

images

To me, there are two lessons.

This is a Brand New Business Model, and It’s Going to be a Bumpy Ride

Marketplace lending started with the observation that banks pay much less interest to depositors than they charged to borrowers, and that technology should allow someone to decrease that spread, making a profit in the bargain. Lending Club and Prosper grew by substituting proprietary algorithms for traditional bank due diligence. The algorithms seem to work,and institutional investors rushed in.

But marketplace lending has been around for less than 10 years and nobody knows how the algorithms will perform during a down cycle. It’s not a big surprise that Wall Street money managers, aware that the economy might be due for a downturn, are hedging their bets.

The fickleness of Wall Street money managers doesn’t mean the business model of Lending Club and Prosper is broken. To me, there is little doubt that algorithms and big data willreplace traditional bank due diligence – not only in consumer lending, but in other parts of the Crowdfunding ecosystem as well. But the algorithms and business models might well have to be adjusted, and nobody should expect a straight line from A to Z.

The fickleness of Wall Street money managers leads to the second lesson.

Wall Street is Fickle

Soon after launching a Crowdfunding platform, you realize there’s a choice where you look for investment capital. You might have begun with the idea of raising money from the public – that is, from retail investors – but you realize quickly that you can also raise money from institutions.

Raising money from institutions is often much easier because, well, institutions have more money. But there are a couple downsides:

  • You started off hoping to become a household brand, but if most of your money comes from institutions you risk becoming merely a deal originator for institutions, with far less clout and long-term brand value.
  • You started off idealistically hoping to bring high-quality investments to the public, but if most of your money comes from institutions, you aren’t.

The experience of Lending Club and Prosper reveals another downside: Wall Street is fickle. If you build your Crowdfunding business based on large investments from a handful of institutional investors it’s a lot of fun on the way up, but when the institutions pull the plug it’s a hard fall.

Ideally, a Crowdfunding platform can have it both ways, using institutional money to build the business while building its brand with the retail public, to the point where the business can survive and prosper even if institutional tastes change. I don’t know whether that’s possible, but I hope so.

261

Markley S. Roderick concentrates his practice on the representation of entrepreneurs and their businesses. He represents companies across a wide range of industries, including technology, real estate, and healthcare.

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

HEADLINE NEWS

Mountain XpressFaces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives | Mountain XpressMountain XpressEach week, Xpress highlights notable WNC crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd. This week features Smiling ...and more » [...]

ForbesReal Estate Crowdfunding: 3 Trends to Watch in 2017ForbesReal estate crowdfunding continues to be a dynamic and ever-evolving industry, growing to an estimated $3.5 billion in 2016. By 2025, the crowdfunding industry as a whole is anticipated to be valued at more than $300 billi [...]

Entrepreneur3 Secret Weapons to Make Your Crowdfunding Campaign a Resounding SuccessEntrepreneurCrowdfunding sites like IndieGogo and Kickstarter popped up to provide a solution, by offering perks to early adopters of technology and products in exchange for funding, and by 2015 the cr [...]

Crowdfund InsiderGridShare Targets Renewable Energy Crowdfunding under Reg CF, Plans International ExpansionCrowdfund InsiderGridshare is one of the newest Reg CF crowdfunding platforms to receive regulatory approval. While the number of Reg CF portals is growing, Gridshare is the fir [...]

LiliputingCrowdfunding means Netbooks don't have to be cool (or popular) to ...LiliputingThe GPD Pocket is a notebook with a 7 inch, 1920 x 1200 pixel display, a quad-core Intel Atom Cherry Trail x7-z8700 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of ...and more » [...]

Android Authority (blog)Crowdfunding project of the week: Professor Einstein robot is the coolest digital assistantAndroid Authority (blog)It's time to dive into the crowdfunding world to find you another featured campaign. In this article series we aim to highlight the hottest p [...]

The Australian Financial ReviewSlow-clap for ScoMo's dodo; equity crowdfunding legislation that is already extinctThe Australian Financial ReviewThe key problem with the proposed framework for the equity crowdfunding bill is it effectively locks out 99 per cent of small businesse [...]

EntrepreneurHow to Make a Crowdfunding Video People Actually WatchEntrepreneurTo draw serious interest from prospective investors, you must spend time and resources in fine-tuning your message.and more » [...]

TrustedReviewsZTE's smartphone crowdfunding campaign went really badlyTrustedReviewsZTE has prematurely ended a crowdfunding campaign that was designed to bring the vision of the brand's fans to life. Unfortunately, it seems fans had other ideas. The company had been hoping [...]

Courier MailCrowd-funding to light up festivalCourier MailWynnum Manly Events Incorporated is crowd-funding $25,000 for this year's festival, expected to be held on June 17. Group president David Saunders said they decided to crowd-fund the event because in the past it had been t [...]

CFB Finance

Syml
Lst Val
+/- Val
+/- %

Marketwired

  • Crowdfunding
  • Crowdfund
  • Peer to Peer Lending
  • FinTech
  • Reg A+
  • Reg CF
  • Crowdfunding USA

Press Release

CrowdFund Beat Media

The 4th Annual Crowdfunding USA Conference & Workshop ln.is/lnkd.in/nugJz

Live Crowdfunding .tv

What's Next Step in Regulation A+ JOBS ACTS Title IIII :L Interview : Steve Cinelli with Brian Korn Securities and Crowdfunding/Peer-to-Peer Lending Lawyer, Watch more video library | Conference | Interview | Campaign Showcase | Research | Education |