A year ago, privately held online lenders like Prosper, SoFi, and Avant looked all but certain to go public at the same, if not higher, than the unicorn valuations than their venture investors have assigned them.
In an SEC filing yesterday, Lending Club, which announced the surprise departure of its founder and CEO last Monday, revealed that investors who contributed a significant amount of funding for loans are now examining that performance or are otherwise reluctant to invest.
But what started out as a disruptive movement known as peer-to-peer was far more novel than what it became, which, in many cases, is a front for whoever is providing some of these startups with capital to lend.
While companies operating in this space come with inherent advantages — they use automated loan applications; they have no retail branches; they use electronic data sources and tech-enabled underwriting models that help them to quickly identify a borrower s credit risk –having deep-pocketed friends has made other things easier, like provide funding decisions within 48 to 72 hours.
Smartly, some players are already looking to reimagine themselves as broader financial outfits.
It also said last month that it s hoping to drum up more investor demand for the debt it originates by starting a hedge fund that will buy its own loans.