The Lending Club IPO is the Netscape moment for Fintech

Fintech is an “overnight sensation” based on years of hard work, like artists who labor in obscurity for years and then suddenly they are the hot new star.

This is the week that it all changes.  Lending Club is the story that generates headlines such as this:

“LendingClub IPO could shatter Bay Area record for the year”

The reason for a headline like that:

“San Francisco-based LendingClub could break into the 10 biggest IPOs ever done by U.S. tech companies if its offering raises more than the $887 million raised by Giant Interactive Group in 2007.”

Or, from the same writer:

“LendingClub would be the second-biggest U.S. IPO of the year if it happens this month, surpassed only by Alibaba Group Holding’s $21.8 billion offering in September.”


The Netscape IPO said:

“The Internet is a big deal”.


The Lending Club IPO says”

“Fintech is a big deal”


The best analysis of the Lending Club financials and valuation that I have seen is from LendAcademy.

My takeaway from that analysis is:

  1. Lending Club has an outrageously high valuation.
  1. Next year, Lending Club will probably still have an outrageously high valuation. There are some companies that you never get to buy on the cheap. This is particularly true in marketplace businesses that tend to a winner-takes-all end result based on network effects.

Once Lending Club and OnDeck are public, we will have two comparables with a lending marketplace model. Prosper cannot be far behind. That will be enough to get Wall Street analysts churning out spreadsheets. It will be enough to have Wall Street Investment Bankers knocking on the doors of any lending marketplace with financials that get them into the IPO zone.

That will trigger bolt on acquisitions, where the big winners can use their capital to drive growth by buying geographic reach or functional extensions. This will give good exits for VC backed ventures and that will lead to more seed investments.

One year ago, Fintech was a small niche that had a few passionate entrepreneurs and investors. A year from now, Fintech will be a huge market with hundreds of thousands of investors and analysts poring over the next big thing with many sub-segments each with their own comparables and specialists. We might look back and see this as the week when it all changed.


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