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Wrap-Up of the LendIt USA 2015 Conference

by Peter Renton on April 17, 2015

LendIt USA 2015 New York City

What a week. I have been in New York putting on the latest edition of LendIt, the online lending conference that I co-founded just a couple of years ago.

We had our first LendIt USA conference in New York in June 2013 with just over 350 people; in San Francisco last year we had almost 1,000 people so this year we were expecting around 1,500 people although we secretly hoping for 2,000 people.

LendIt USA 2015 Was Sold Out

We had almost 1,000 people register in the two weeks leading up to the conference and so we made the difficult decision to close down registration on Friday, three days before the conference began. The final count for attendees was 2,493 people, a 159% increase over last year. As Scott Sanborn, the COO of Lending Club, pointed out at the opening reception that was a faster growth rate than his company. And we had to turn away over 150 people who tried to register last minute.

The Pre-Conference

We kicked off LendIt USA 2015 a half-day earlier than usual with some pre-conference workshops. We had four tracks:

  1. Credit Boot Camp for Alternative Lending Presented by FICO
  2. P2P Lending 101
  3. The Online Lending Technology Ecosystem
  4. Building an Online Lending Platform

Like the rest of the conference we had more people attend these workshops than expected so it was a little crowded, particularly at the FICO workshop. I gave the first presentation on the P2P Lending 101 track, which was just an intro to the industry. Executives from Lending Club had the stage for the rest of the P2P Lending 101 track and judging by the questions there were a lot of newbies in the room – exactly what we had hoped. I heard great reports from the other tracks and I would have loved to attend all of them but I spent most of my time in the P2P Lending 101 track.

That evening we had the pre-conference cocktail party, sponsored by Lending Club, where several hundred of us gathered for drinks and hors d’oeuvres overlooking Times Square.

Some of the Highlights

While it would require a full book to cover all the highlights of LendIt what I will do below is give you some of the highlights.

Renaud Laplanche Keynote

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Avant has been somewhat of a quiet achiever in the online lending space. In just over two years CEO Al Goldstein and his team have built a successful business that is set to become a dominant player.

Strictly a balance sheet lender until now, Avant is launching their institutional marketplace today. And they have signed on three very big names for their launch. KKR, the legendary private equity firm, is the lead investor and they are joined by Victory Park Capital, who seem to be in every major deal these days, along with Jefferies, the leading investment bank, who have also invested in CircleBack Lending.

An Introduction to Avant

So who is Avant? They recently rebranded from AvantCredit to just Avant and they are probably the leading near-prime online consumer lender in the US today. They focus on the 600-720 FICO segment and they have an average FICO score of 640.

When I spoke with CEO Al Goldstein a while back he told me that he thinks the mid-prime segment is a huge opportunity but that it is difficult to execute on. At Avant they are very much focused on big data and machine learning algorithms. Goldstein said that all loans are approved within 24 hours and for half the customer base underwriting is completely automated. Their goal is to increase that to 100% of their customers in the near future.

While there is some overlap with Lending Club and Prosper in the 600-720 FICO segment Goldstein said that he didn’t really view them as direct competitors. He views some of the brick and mortar mid-prime lenders as Avant’s competitors.

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Podcast 35: Jason Jones on LendIt USA 2015

April 12, 2015

LendIt USA 2015 officially kicks off tomorrow afternoon. We have over 2,300 people signed up now (we are officially sold out) so I thought it would be useful for everyone coming to sit down with my good friend and LendIt co-founder, Jason Jones, to discuss the conference and how to get the most out of it. […]

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Marketplace Lending News Roundup – April 11, 2015

April 11, 2015

During the week I share the latest marketplace lending news on Twitter as it happens. Then every Saturday I take the most interesting news items and blog posts from the past week and share them here. The Next Big Ideas in Financial Technology from the LendIt Blog – Charles Moldow’s new white paper “The Next Big Ideas […]

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The Hourglass Effect: A Seminal White Paper on the Personal Loans Market by Frank Rotman of QED Investors

April 10, 2015

It has always been a mystery to me. I have always wondered why all the banks shut down their personal loan businesses in 2008-09 but never restarted them. Even when it was obvious that companies like Lending Club and Prosper were getting good traction. When Frank Rotman, a founding partner at QED Investors, sent me […]

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Moving Towards Mainstream Acceptance

April 9, 2015

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Aaron Vermut, the CEO of Prosper. Under his watch Prosper has grown from $9 million a month in loan volume to more than $250 million per month in just over two years. He was a recent guest on the Lend Academy Podcast and his interview is the most […]

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Prosper Announces $165 Million Series D at a $1.9 Billion Valuation

April 9, 2015

On the eve of LendIt last year Prosper announced their largest funding round ever – a $70 million round that valued the company at $600 million. This year, with LendIt just days away, they have upped the ante with the announcement last night of a $165 million round at a whopping $1.865 billion valuation. Prosper has […]

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Real Estate Crowdfunding Platform Patch of Land Raises $23.6 Million

April 8, 2015

Today, Patch of Land announced a large Series A financing round led by SF Capital Group with Prosper President, Ron Suber, also investing. Neil Wolfson, of SF Capital Group will be joining the Board of Directors of Patch of Land. Neil and his firm have also invested in other top marketplace lenders, including OnDeck and BorrowersFirst. […]

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Lend Academy Investments Merges with Nickel Steamroller to Create NSR Invest

April 7, 2015

I first chatted with Michael Phillips, the founder of NickelSteamroller.com back in 2011. He talked about wanting to create a resource site for investors that would allow anyone to easily analyze the loan history of Lending Club. NickelSteamroller.com was born and I became one of its biggest fans. Michael joined up with Rocco Galgano, the […]

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Victory Park Capital to Invest $500M in Loans on Upstart

April 6, 2015

Upstart, the millennial focused p2p lender today announced a huge deal with Victory Park Capital.  This commitment raises Victory Park’s investment from $100M to $500M in Upstart loans.  This isn’t Victory Park Capital’s first big deal in 2015 as they announced a $420M investment in Funding Circle this past February. We reached out to Paul […]

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