Charles Moldow, a partner at venture firm Foundation Capital and an early investor in LendingClub and On Deck, said there's a glass-half-full interpretation of the LendingClub news. Moldow is a long-time bull on marketplace lending, estimating in a 2014 white paper that the market would reach $1 trillion in issued loans by 2025.
He's betting that a new class of lenders, providing a better consumer experience than banks with far lower fees and attractive returns for investors, will capture greater share in consumer, small business and student finance.
LendingClub is proof that they're acting with prudence.
"At some level, the investor community before this wouldn't have known whether these fintech start-ups are running fast and loose or whether they're serious companies making sure they're being transparent and following regulatory procedures," said Moldow, who hosts an annual pre-LendIt dinner with some of the industry leaders. "LendingClub is demonstrating a serious commitment towards transparency."
Foundation still owns 7.1 percent of LendingClub's shares, according to FactSet, though the firm doesn't have a board seat.
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LendingClub is paying a heavy price in losing its founder and chief evangelist.
Laplanche created LendingClub in 2006 and launched it the following year as a way for retail investors to put money into prime consumer loans. The idea, as Laplanche has described many times, stemmed from an experience he had before going on a European vacation with his wife, following the sale of his previous software company to Oracle.
In getting his finances together, Laplanche noticed that his bank deposits were earning virtually no interest while his credit card fee from the same bank was in the teens. Banks use that fat margin to pay for all sorts of inefficiencies, like tons of branch offices and mass marketing campaigns. And because they can.
Laplanche's idea was to bring down rates through better underwriting and turn over the profit to outside investors who are always hungry for returns.