As the year winds down it is interesting to look back and think about the biggest news stories of this year. These are the stories that marked the changing course of this burgeoning industry. While a lot certainly happened this year there were a few big stories that really stood out for me.
Here are my top five news stories of 2013 in chronological order.
Prosper had been struggling for a few months and needed an injection of more than just capital. They got the capital they needed as well as a new management team that has brought tremendous energy and growth to Prosper. At the time we did not know how this new team would pan out but they have clearly taken Prosper to a new level when it comes to growth.
The news coverage of this deal was something to behold. Bringing Google on as a partner put Lending Club on the map in the eyes of many people. There were no less than 20 articles in the mainstream press about this deal and the day this story broke was also the biggest day ever in terms of number of visits to Lend Academy. We have not seen the fruits of this partnership yet but I think 2014 may see a formal joint venture between these two companies (although I have no inside knowledge of any developments here whatsoever).
As I said at the time BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager with several trillion dollars under management. The fact that they have made an equity investment in Prosper and are also participating as an investor in the platform is another sign of the maturation of the industry and a huge step forward for Prosper.
There was no one event that signified this change from an industry dominated by individual retail investors to one dominated by institutional investors. But in 2013 the climate certainly changed. We started the year with thousands of loans available between Lending Club and Prosper and many would take days or even close to two weeks to fill. No more. Most loans, particularly the higher interest loans, are snapped up in minutes and some even within seconds.
The online small business lending space is still in its infancy but probably the most successful company in this space globally is Funding Circle. They have issued almost £200 million in loans in the UK and expanding to the USA is a natural progression for them. And the fact that they raised $37 million in venture capital money means they are very well positioned to become a dominant player in small business lending here.
What do you think? I know there were certainly plenty of other big stories this year that I did not include. As always I enjoy hearing your feedback.