LendUp scores investment to spin off credit card biz

Source: LendUp

LendUp, a financial technology company for the emerging middle class, today announced an undisclosed investment led by LL Funds LLC and Invus Opportunities to scale its credit card business as a stand-alone company, Mission Lane.

It also announced executive appointments that bolster both firms' leadership.

Moving forward LendUp's business will focus on personal loans, gamified education, and savings opportunities as an independent company. Its credit card business, including that business line's card portfolio, IP, technology platform, and team, will become newly-created Mission Lane. There will be no immediate impact to the customer experience as a result of this change.

Creating two stand-alone companies provides opportunity for each to grow with separate technology platforms and an optimized capital structure for each business. It also ensures LendUp and Mission Lane are able to accelerate plans to reach as many consumers as possible with their mobile-first products, designed to put consumers on a path to better financial health.

"While most of the financial services industry is aimed at the prime and near-prime end of the credit spectrum, these moves set not just one, but two companies up for long-term success," said Frank Rotman, co-founder of QED Investors and one of the earliest Executives at Capital One. "Now, LendUp and Mission Lane are better positioned to serve the more than half of Americans who lack access to high quality financial services," he said.

LL Funds and Invus Opportunities anchor the new capital raise, joined by QED Investors. The deal reflects investors' confidence in both LendUp and Mission Lane and in the opportunities within the subprime credit market more broadly. According to VantageScore, about 140 million people are underserved from mainstream banking because they have a credit score of 680 or below.

Industry vet Anu Shultes appointed LendUp CEO

Anu Shultes, GM of LendUp Loans and a 25-year veteran of subprime credit and financial services businesses, has been named CEO of LendUp; she will also join LendUp's board. Since joining LendUp more than a year ago, Shultes has led the loans business as it has achieved profitable growth, bringing LendUp's originations to more than 5.5 million short-term loans totaling $1.7 billion. Shultes' career spans a broad spectrum of roles across subprime credit cards, subprime loans, and prepaid cards for a number of companies including Blackhawk Network, AccountNow, National City Bank, and Providian, among others.

"I appreciate the Board's confidence in me and am excited to lead this fantastic organization," said Shultes. "We're on track to profitably expand into new consumer segments and geographies, launch new loan products, double new customer originations, and carry on our mission to help anyone get on a path to better financial health."

Sasha Orloff, LendUp's co-founder and CEO, will step down from day to day responsibilities but remain involved in LendUp as a board member and in Mission Lane as an advisor. Orloff and Jake Rosenberg co-founded the company in 2012, having graduated out of Y Combinator's winter 2012 class.

"Anu brings the perfect combination of background, skills and vision to her role as CEO," said Orloff. "She's an absolutely fearless leader, and she's the right person to shepherd LendUp through its next stage. I'm equally excited about the impact Anu will make on the industry as one of the few female CEOs in fintech."

LendUp's executive team includes Kathleen Fitzpatrick as Head of Engineering; Jordan Olivier as Head of Finance; Sunil Singh as COO responsible for Strategy, Growth and Operations; Jotaka Eaddy as Head of Government Affairs and Social Impact; and Pia Thompson as General Counsel and Chief Risk Officer. Collectively, they are seasoned leaders from prominent financial services, technology and retail organizations, and nonprofits, including Charles Schwab & Co; Gap, Inc; Lending Club; NAACP; Marqeta; and Oracle.

"As an independent entity, LendUp can reach its full growth potential, delivering even more open and transparent financial services to a much larger segment of consumers," said Rotman.

Mission Lane bolstered by new board members

Mission Lane will build on the momentum of LendUp's two initial credit card products -- the Arrow Card and the L Card. The Arrow and L Card are best-in-class, mobile-first alternatives to fee harvester cards, which are often described as "payday on plastic". The Arrow and L Card have the highest customer satisfaction scores in their space, and, compared to fee harvester cards, are vastly cheaper for consumers.

Vijesh Iyer, previously LendUp's COO, has been named interim CEO of Mission Lane, while a search is underway to hire a world-class permanent CEO. Iyer is a highly-experienced credit card executive with more than 18 years of experience in the industry including with Capital One, Cerberus Capital and PayPal; he joined LendUp in 2015. Iyer is joined by key executives including LendUp's co-founder Jake Rosenberg leading technology, Eric Nelson leading operations, and Leonard Roseman leading data science, with additional leaders to be added in the coming months.

Raj Mundy of LL Funds and Ben Tsai of Invus Opportunities will join Mission Lane's board. Mundy was EVP of HSBC's US bank cards business, where he oversaw both the prime and subprime card portfolios, and later President of Chase's Mass Affluent credit card division. Tsai is a Partner at Invus Opportunities, where he has led investments in growing companies since 2008.

"Too many consumers are still denied access to credit or are left with dangerous options," said Mundy. "With multiple generations of credit models, a focus on providing customers with a top-notch, digital-first experience, and a commitment to providing the right incentives for customers to improve their financial future, I'm confident Mission Lane will fill that void."

"As existing investors and board members, we're intimately familiar with the team, product, and technology. The team has cracked the code on a very complex and technical business, and they have built a product that would be hard for any competitor to replicate. We look forward to what's next," said Rotman.

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