Biz Break: Lending Club’s acting CEO goes for reassurance

Top Of The Order: 

And Now For Something Sort Of Completely Different: Anybody who has a sense of humor knows about Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The Lumberjack Song. The Ministry of Silly Walks. Spam. The Spanish Inquisition. Those are just some of the classic bits from the legendary all-British (save for Terry Gilliam) comedy troupe.

I think that Lending Club’s acting Chief Executive Scott Sanborn must be a Monty Python fan. After all, what he did to end the week was akin to singing the famous song that plays at the end of the “Life of Brian.” You probably have it in your head right now. “Always look on the bright side of life…” And if you didn’t have it playing in your mind before, you certainly do now.

You see, late Thursday, Sanborn sent out an email to the investors who buy Lending Club’s loans. He did this to reassure them after two weeks that have rattled confidence in Lending Club as a business, and as an investment. In case you didn’t catch it, on May 9, Lending Club CEO Renaud Laplanche resigned amid disclosures that $22 million in loans sold to one investor were made in violation of that investor’s instructions. On Tuesday, the Lending Club disclosed that the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating it with regards to the loan scandal.

All of that conspired to eviscerate investors’ confidence in Lending Club’s stock. By the time the market closed on Thursday, Lending Club shares had fallen almost 50 percent since the day Laplanche resigned. But that didn’t stop Sanborn from bringing out the cheer.

“Let me assure you that we are in a strong financial position with a substantial amount of cash and securities on our balance sheet — $868 million,” Sanborn said. “We plan to be around for many years to come.”

Hey, $868 million is nothing to sneeze at, right? That positivity from Sanborn gave investors enough faith to send Lending Club’s stock up almost 8 percent Friday, to close at $3.99.

But will Sanborn’s sentiment be enough to keep those investors around?

Financial tech, which is where Lending Club has made its bones, is a pretty young industry for the DOJ to be investigating. A DOJ probe is a big deal. There’s no way of knowing how long the DOJ will want to dig around into Lending Club’s business and such an action leaves a cloud of uncertainty hanging over everything.

We’ve seen how quickly the bright side can turn dark for Lending Club, but what else can Sanborn do? Might as well keep on humming that sunny Monty Python tune.

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Middle Innings:

And Nothing But The Truth: The trial between Oracle and Google over billions of bucks that Oracle claims Google owes it for use of Java in the Android operating system got good this week, as Larry Page, CEO of Google’s parent, Alphabet, took the witness stand to try to dispute some of Oracle’s allegations.

The biggest of which is that Page disputed a Google document which appeared to estimate that Google is bringing in $43 billion a year from Android. That number is significant, as it’s at the heart of Oracle’s argument that Google has used parts of Java in Android without gaining Oracle’s permission, or providing compensation for use of the programming language.

Page also argued that Google believed those parts of Java were free to use, as it was created as an open-source programming platform. The trial is scheduled to come to an end on May 26.

But, How Do You Really Feel? The feeling from some conservatives that Facebook deliberately skews its “trending topics” feed toward more liberal stories — based on accusations from a report by Gizmodo — isn’t going to go away, even though Glenn Beck seems to have made some peace with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Beck met Zuckerberg earlier this week, and on Thursday, he said he came away from that meeting feeling like Facebook and Zuckerberg are acting in good faith. That wasn’t enough for bow-tie aficionado Tucker Carlson.

Carlson, who appears regularly on Fox News, felt Beck had rolled over and become Zuckerberg’s lap dog. Carlson called Beck’s comments “awe-inspiring,” but that wasn’t meant as a compliment.

“He began the most extended, assiduous suck-up I think I’ve ever seen a grown man commit, Carlson said on Fox News. “He acted like he was auditioning to be Mark Zuckerberg’s manservant.”

Well, Zuckerberg is a billionaire…He must pay his servants, man or otherwise, pretty well, right?

Bottom Of The Lineup:

Here’s a look at how some leading Silicon Valley stocks did Friday…

Movin’ On Up: Gains came from Applied Materials, QuinStreet, SolarCity, 8×8 and Nimble Storage, among others.

In The Red: Yahoo shares shed 1.4 percent to close at $36.50 following reports that bids for the company’s core Internet business have been less than expected. Oclaro, Electronic Arts, Medivation and also lost ground.

The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index rose 1.2 percent to 4,769.

The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.4 percent to end the day at 17,500.

And the broad-based Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.6 percent to 2,052.

Quote Of The Day: “The kids are alright.” — Pete Townshend. The Who, with Townshend and Roger Daltrey, performed at the Oracle Arena in Oakland on Thursday night.

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Photo: Former Lending Club CEO Renaud Laplanche, third from right, and other company officials mark Lending Club’s IPO on Dec. 11, 2014. (AP/Richard Drew)


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