I first met Prosper back in March 2007 at the online_banking_summit_2007.
I was part of the panel on Web 2.0 with Rob Klapper, ex Chief Marketing Officer.
Prosper is one of the leading social lending marketplaces, with Zopa (in the UK): it is the first U.S. person-to-person lender, launched in Feb. 2006. Now, the social lending space is very busy and you can find a lot of competitors providing a similar online-community based service, usually focused on a country or territory.
I am glad I had the chance to spend a couple of minutes with Chris Larsen, Founder and CEO of Prosper. Chris is famous in the industry, he was previously the Chairman & Founder of E-Loan in the US.
During his speech at Finovate, Chris updated us on Prosper and gave us a few figures: 430,000 memberes, $91 million of loans, over 75,000 borrowers, over 168,000 loans listings, and an active community. This is an important trait of Prosper.
I believe web 2.0 companies's success will come from their ability to:
* leverage the existing technologies like blogging or social networking
* provide an intuitive platform to their members
* engage their members and urge them to create useful content and act as advocates for the brand
Prosper do that very well. You just have to check the impressive number of blogs dedicated to Prosper and Social Lending (cf my Social Lending blogroll)
In the last couple of months, Prosper launched a Facebook application called Fantasy Banker.
During the conference, Chris announced a couple of new features. Prosper's goal is to extend the power of the community:
* now, they are leveraging the actual data from the Prosper marketplace
* soon, they will provide tools to help the members to bid more efficiently
* they will indicate when the ROI is too low, and they may point you to an ING Direct...
* the new portfolio plans will help you to diversify your investments based on the level of risk that suits you
* members will be able to post their own "community plans"
Interview with Chris Larsen