Last year, privately held online lenders like Prosper, SoFi and Avant looked all but certain to go public at same unicorn valuations their venture investors had assigned them, if not higher. It seemed their apt reward for reshaping the student, consumer and small business lending business.
Fast forward today and the picture is much changed. While the market that online lending companies are chasing is enormous — the U.S. consumer lending market is a $3.5 trillion business — many investors see the sector as overheated, particularly after the surprise ouster in May of Renaud Laplanche, the founder and CEO of what was long the industry’s brightest star, LendingClub.
In December at our Disrupt London event, Laplanche will make his first public appearance since leaving the company to talk about the past year, and what the future may hold for both him and LendingClub.
We’re exceedingly delighted to have him. As readers may recall, Laplanche had taken LendingClub public in a splashy debut in 2014. It was six months after he’d made an appearance at an earlier Disrupt in New York, and the offering proved to become the year’s biggest. But the company has struggled with an uptick in write-offs since he was asked to resign, the result of LendingClub’s board’s loss of confidence in him following an internal probe that turned up falsified documents.
Other companies have also come under scrutiny this year — by customers, investors, and regulators alike.
What’s gone wrong? And, per a report from June, was Laplanche really talking at one point with private equity firms and banks about financing a potential buyout of the online lender? (Might he be still?)
We’ll ask Laplanche much more about that report, along with the decisions he made, the shifts he might not have anticipated, and whether online lending is experiencing growing pains — or its problems are far more serious than that. For example, do Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs that were recently online lenders’ biggest customers now pose a mortal threat to them? Can Washington keep up with high-tech lending?
This is one conversation you won’t want to miss. To buy tickets to Disrupt (they’re discounted for two more days), you can purchase them here.