Ousted Lending Club CEO’s New Consumer Lending Platform Upgrade

At FintekNews, we’re all for second (and third and fourth) acts and redemption, and this story appears to be exactly that.  Former co-founder of Lending Club Renaud Leplanche, who left that firm in a blaze of controversy last year, has re-emerged with a new competing lending firm – Upgrade – with offices in San Francisco and Phoenix – and 70 employees on the payroll already.

The new firm combines consumer credit information and tools with a consumer lending platform.  Because the Lending Club “escapade” involved selling loans to an institutional investor that had been back-dated (old trick that’s been around forever and a VERY BAD idea), the new company is focused on having pristine risk management, and will be utilizing blockchain technology to provide an immutable ledger of all transactions.  TRANSLATION:  NO MORE BACK-DATING LOANS.  We think it’s all good, and we wish them the best of success.
(Cindy Taylor/Publisher)

Upgrade, Inc. (http://www.upgrade.com) today announced the launch of a new consumer credit platform that combines a marketplace lending approach with tools that help consumers understand and monitor their credit.

“We are excited to introduce innovations that help consumers better understand their credit potential, unlock that potential and obtain more affordable credit,” said Upgrade co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Renaud Laplanche.

Upgrade started operations in August 2016 and closed its Series A round of financing in March, raising $60 million in equity and convertible notes from investors including Apoletto, Credit Ease, FirstMark Capital, Noah Holdings, Ribbit Capital, Sands Capital Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank, Union Square Ventures, Uprising and Vy Capital.

“We are thrilled to be backing Renaud again, after having worked alongside him at Lending Club for many years. We trust his judgment and integrity, and we think he’s assembled a fantastic team at Upgrade,” said Fred Wilson, Managing Partner at Union Square Ventures.

“Renaud is a great entrepreneur who works tirelessly to innovate and create value for his customers, partners, employees and shareholders,” said Frank Sands, co-founder of Sands Capital Ventures. “We all think that the marketplace lending model can be expanded to new products and ultimately be more helpful to more people,” Sands said.

All loans originated through the Upgrade platform are issued by WebBank, Member FDIC. Upgrade will acquire loans from WebBank, retain a representative portion of those loans on its balance sheets and offer whole loans for sale to institutional investors.

Jefferies is advising the company on its capital markets strategy and is expected to participate in loan purchases to help establish the company’s securitization program.

Upgrade has incorporated the latest available technology and a decade of industry best practices to build a new generation of risk management, servicing operations, compliance management system and internal controls. Among other technology and process advances, Upgrade will be using the blockchain protocol to enhance data integrity by creating time-stamped, immutable transaction records.

Personal loans are available through the Upgrade website starting (April 6, 2017). Credit monitoring, alerts and education features will launch in coming weeks.”

Source: PR Newswire