Stephan Vermut, chief executive officer of Prosper Marketplace.
Bloomberg Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Leena Rao
May 26, 2016

There’s more shakeup heading for the troubled online lending market. Prosper Marketplace, an online marketplace backed by Silicon Valley investors Sequoia Capital and Accel, has hired investment banks to explore “strategic alternatives,” according to a Reuters report.

Since being founded a decade ago, Prosper’s peer to peer loan marketplace had amassed more than two million members and arranged over $5 billion in funded loans. The company raised $165 million in new funding last year from investors that included affiliates of Credit Suisse and J.P. Morgan and was expected to file a IPO.

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But in the past few months concerns have emerged that that major buyers for online lenders’ loans, which include hedge funds and investors, are drying up. One of the largest online lenders and a Prosper competitor, Lending Club, has seen its share price plummet by over 60%, amid an executive shakeup and news that the U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation into the company.

A few weeks ago, Prosper reported that it plans to cut 28% of its staff, shutter its Salt Lake City office, and reshuffle its own executive bench.

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With Thursday’s news, it appears that the company could be facing a dwindling capital. Prosper hired investment banks Financial Technology Partners and J.P. Morgan Chase to explore strategic alternatives, which include selling equity in the company to a third party. Strategic alternatives could also mean selling the company outright.

Reuters reported that Prosper plans to raise more funding, which could include selling either a minority or majority stake in the company.

Lending Club also recently hired investment bank Jefferies to help it find investors for funding more loans.

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