Just before Christmas last year I went to San Francisco to sit down for a chat with former Lending Club CEO Renaud Laplanche. This was the first time we had met face to face since his departure from Lending Club in May of last year. While we talked about Lending Club, the focus of our conversation was on his plans for his new company. Today, he has announced the launch of this company – it is a new consumer lender called Upgrade.
As most of you know Renaud founded and ran the most successful marketplace lending platform in the country. Along the way he learned what worked and what didn’t work. Now, ten years later he can take those learnings and apply it to a brand new company.
The New York Times reported earlier today that Renaud has raised $60 million for Upgrade which is the largest ever Series A by an American lending startup. The article also said that this new company is valued at $168 million which is the highest valuation that I have ever heard of for a company that has yet to issue a loan. Clearly, Renaud’s reputation is still strong among the investor community. Keep in mind, he has raised this money in an environment that is much less friendly to online lending platforms than it was two or three years ago.
What is Upgrade?
Upgrade is an online consumer lending platform that will offer 36- and 60-month term loans ranging from $2,000 to $50,000. Interest rates will start at 5.66% and go up to 35.97%. These are similar rates to what Lending Club offers today so clearly Upgrade will be targeting a similar prime consumer.