Marlette today announced that they will be appointing Josh Tonderys (pictured above) as President. Marlette is an unsecured consumer lender which operates their lending business under the brand Best Egg. They have recently crossed $2 billion in originations and are among the leaders in the industry. We had the chance to speak with Josh about his new role and also get some thoughts from CEO Jeffrey Meiler about the current state of the market.
Josh has an immense amount of experience in the industry having been both the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Risk Officer at Prosper. We also reached out to Aaron Vermut, CEO of Prosper, for a statement about the departure of Josh Tonderys and this is what he had to say:
I would like to thank Josh for all his many years of service to both Prosper and the industry. We parted ways amicably and Josh has been very supportive of Prosper during this transition. We wish him every success in his future endeavors.
Josh joined Prosper at an inflection point in the company’s history at the end of 2012 right before the turnaround happened when the company was recapitalized by the Vermut’s along with Ron Suber. Josh stated that he wasn’t looking to jump ship from Prosper and that the decision to join Marlette happened over time.
He mentioned that he shared the vision of Marlette and was excited to be staying in the industry. In addition, Josh has a long history working with many employees currently on the Marlette team. The new position as President will span marketing, risk and operations. From the press release Josh stated:
I am passionate about what marketplace lending has done for consumers and I believe that Marlette is uniquely positioned for success. The team has strong roots in financial services and built an agile technology infrastructure to achieve great success for everyone in its partner ecosystem. I am thrilled to join the company at such a pivotal time and can only imagine what milestones we will report in the next 12 – 18 months.
From a leadership standpoint, Jeffrey said that it was time to grow and that Josh was a logical choice. The startup is a close knit group and Josh will fit right in given his history of having worked with many people at Marlette for a decade or more in previous jobs.
Marlette’s Perspective on Current Market Conditions
Jeffrey admitted that the current market conditions are certainly choppy and challenging at this time as institutional interest has softened. However, he clarified several aspects that have been misrepresented in the media that he believes differentiate Marlette.
In the fourth quarter of 2015, Marlette intentionally reduced origination volume and this was not due to the current challenges of investor sentiment. The team saw from a credit risk perspective trends that they didn’t like. The decision has served them well and although the context has changed recently, they have benefited from this decision last year. In fact, they have seen early delinquency rates 50% less for Q4 2015 and Q1 2016 compared to Q3 of 2015. Jeffrey stated that delinquency rates for the past two quarters are at the lowest level since they opened their doors.
He also stated that they have always built the business to be more resilient. Instead of scaling up full time employees, they have outsourced several aspects of the business which means they have a lower fixed cost. They currently have less than 100 employees. Jeffrey said while the investor sentiment has changed, they still have a pipeline of investors, but things are moving a bit more slowly compared to last year. It is his belief that the differentiated story of Marlette resonates with investors and they are seeing the benefits of key strategic decisions they have made.
This is certainly great news for Marlette bringing on Josh who has so much experience in the marketplace lending industry. It’s important however to note that this transition was not a part of Prosper’s downsizing reported earlier this week. Josh will be taking on a larger role as President than his previous position at Prosper. It was also interesting to get Marlette’s perspective on the current state of the industry and time will tell how they and other companies weather the challenges currently facing the industry.