去年5月，美国最大网贷平台Lending Club创始人、前CEO Renaud Laplanche突然宣布辞职。在沉寂了一段时间之后，这位"P2P行业教父"又重新回到了公众的视野里，推出了一个名为Upgrade的全新P2P平台。
这家总部位于旧金山的P2P平台在此前刚刚完成了6000万美元的A轮融资，投资方包括Union Square Ventures、Ribbit Capital、Vy Capital等。值得注意的是，中国的宜信和诺亚控股也参与了该轮融资。
2016年5月6日，Lending Club宣布公司已经接受董事会主席兼首席执行官 Renaud Laplanche提出的辞职申请。受该事件的影响，Lending Club当日收盘价下跌35%至4.62美元，突破其自2014年IPO以来的最大跌幅。对此，各大媒体纷纷提出"Lending Club已经跌落神坛"的看法，这也使得公众不仅对Lending Club，甚至对整个P2P网贷行业的资产证券化这一发展模式产生了强烈的质疑。
究其根源，Lending Club此前曾将2200万美元贷款售卖给美国投行Jefferies Group，并擅自修改了交易文件，由此产生了一系列的违规现象。
作为一家新的P2P平台，Upgrade将面临与Lending Club、On Deck Capital Inc.，Prosper等行业巨兽的竞争。然而Renaud Laplanche认为，Lending Club等平台已经逐步实现了智能化的放贷流程，但由于它们对贷款销售的定价过高，远远超过一般银行的承受能力，因此只能出售给部分金融机构和投资人，再加上中间的审核极有可能出现纰漏，因此行业正面临着巨大的风险。从数据上看，尽管近年来P2P网贷行业仍在继续发展，但发展速度已有所减缓，其中，贷款质量已经成为阻碍行业发展的主要障碍之一。
Renaud Laplanche表示，鉴于Lending Club发展模式中存在的弊端，Upgrade对此做了进一步的优化。平台所发放的贷款将只出售给大型资产管理公司，而非个人投资者。
Renaud Laplanche, who abruptly stepped down as chief executive officer of LendingCLub Corp in May, has launched a new online lender called Upgrade, the company said on Thursday.
San Francisco-based Upgrade has raised $60 million in equity and convertible notes from a large group of U.S. investors including Union Square Ventures, Ribbit Capital, Vy Capital and Silicon Valley Bank, the startup said.
It said investors also included large Chinese lender CreditEase and Noah Holdings , an investment management firm.
Laplanche, who founded and took LendingClub public, sent shockwaves through the emerging online lending industry with his resignation last year, after the company acknowledged a series of loan malpractices.
LendingClub, which runs a website where consumers can apply for loans funded by individual or institutional investors, said it had altered documentation when selling $22 million in loans to Jefferies Group. The loans were later repurchased by the online lender.
An internal probe also revealed that Laplanche and his family had taken out 32 loans on the platform in December 2009 to boost the company's volumes just four months prior to closing a round of venture capital funding.
Laplanche is now making his comeback with the support of LendingClub's venture capital backer Union Square Ventures.
"We are thrilled to be backing Renaud again, after having worked alongside him at Lending Club for many years," said Fred Wilson, managing partner at Union Square Ventures in a statement.
By automating much of the lending process companies like LendingClub, OnDeck Capital Inc and Prosper are able to service borrowers that have become too risky or expensive for banks to lend to from their more constrained balance sheets.
While the sector has continued to expand, growth has softened, in part because of investor concerns regarding the quality of the loans.
Unlike LendingClub, loans originated on Upgrade will only be bought by large asset managers, and not by individual investors.
The loans will be issued by bank Utah-based WebBank and later purchased by Upgrade. The startup will retain a portion of those loans on its balance sheet.
It will also provide borrowers with a series of tools to help them monitor their credit.
Upgrade is being advised on its capital market strategy by Jefferies, which is also expected to participate in loan purchases and help kick off the company’s securitization program.
Co-founded in August with Soul Htite, the CEO of Chinese online lender Dianrong, the startup is also backed by Apoletto, FirstMark Capital and Uprising.