Maybe it’s the onset of spring, but there seems to be a wave of funding announcements in the air, including a whopping round for collective-buying service Groupon that reportedly gives the company a $1.2 billion valuation. In the news today are two companies that have not only raised money from venture investors, but also provide services that revolve around money: Lending Club, a non-bank financing community that allows people to borrow from other members, closed a Series C round valued at $24.5 million; and DebtGoal, which provides online tools for people to manage and reduce their debt load, closed a Series A round of $2 million.
Lending Club’s financing came from Foundation Capital, along with existing investors including Morgenthaler Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners and Canaan Partners. The company, which connects investors and credit-worthy borrowers and says that it has 79 percent of of the U.S. peer-lending market with more than $8.5 million in loans funded every month, argues that its non-bank structure provides lower rates for borrowers and provides investors with higher returns. The company takes a 1 percent handling charge on every loan, and doesn’t guarantee any of them.
The company recently announced that it had surpassed $1 billion in loan demand, hit a monthly record in loan applications in February and issued its 10,000th loan, having now matched people who have received more than $95 million worth of loans since the company was founded in 2006. Prosper, the company’s main competitor, said earlier this year that it has arranged a total of $190 million in loans in its history and has close to one million members.
As Liz reported in December, the peer-to-peer lending sector got a new lease on life recently, when the House of Representatives included an amendment that would see regulation of the sector moved from the Securities and Exchange Commission to a new banking regulator. The SEC had required P2P lenders to meet stringent criteria, including filing to register its loans as securities and clearing other regulatory hurdles. This stunted the market and caused many venture capital groups to shy away from financing companies like Lending Club, Zopa and Prosper, but that cloud seems to have lifted.
If borrowing too much money — through banks or non-bank lenders like Lending Club or Prosper — becomes a problem, then you might become a customer of the other company with funding news today: DebtGoal, which launched in December of 2008, says it is the leader in “online personal debt-management solutions for consumers,” and that its proprietary algorithms can help users save an average of over $35,000 in interest payments and get out of debt 16 years sooner than they otherwise would. Its Series A round of $2 million came from Tugboat Ventures — which describes itself as an “early stage, mentor capital” firm — and Ed Odjana, founder of the debt-management site FreeCreditReport.com.
Odjana and Dave Whorton of Tugboat Ventures have also joined the DebtGoal board of directors. The company also got an earlier seed round of funding from New Cycle Capital that totalled $1.1 million. DebtGoal provides a number of tools for users to manager their debt payments, including a “SmartPay Plan” that calculates an optimal pay-down plan based on the user’s preferences and ability to pay.
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