I recently got the opportunity to attend Prosper Days. This is an event geared towards those interested in participating on Prosper. As it turns out, attendees were either lenders, borrowers or new members to the Prosper community that haven't started lending or borrowing money yet. Prosper started in 2006, and it is one of the largest P2P lending services, if not the largest. Currently they have over 120 million dollars in loans. During the conference one of the panelists loosely estimated that the total amount might be around 2 billion within 5 years!
The conference was 1 and 1/2 day long give or take and it took place in Prosper's hometown of San Francisco. I thought the whole event was very well put together. There was one of the panels I attended that I didn't like too much. I wish I had gone to the other one that ran at the same time. More on that later, but in general I had a blast and I learned a lot of new stuff, I also met great people.
This is an old post from my old website.
The event kicked off with Chris Larsen, the CEO in the opening keynote. He was introduced by Marilyn Paguirian. I attended a couple of Marilyn's sessions later throughout the conference and I found some of her ideas to be very interesting and refreshing. I also have quite a bit to talk about that.
A driving topic for a lot of the talks I went to was that you can participate in Prosper as a very aggressive, money-driven, by-the-numbers approach; or you can take a more neighborly, helping-others stance. So the comparison was made between two famous characters; Gordon Gecko, from the movie Wallstreet compared to George Bailey, from It's a Wonderful Life. I must say that I didn't know who George Bailey was, but the concept is still very clear. You can be a hard ass and lend only to borrowers based exclusively in their numbers, or you can be somewhat softer and also consider the description of the loan and the actual person requesting the loan.
We also discussed the value of social capital, and how social capital is shaping to play a major role in the future. Besides the regular discussion panels, there were a couple of technical sessions that showcased a lot of cool features. Most of these might be superfluous or unimportant to the average person, but if you're a programmer, or web developer, you would have found the Prosper API sessions worthwhile. It is Prosper's goal to have all the functionality that they currently have on the website, available via an API. Several speakers gave us insights into their own applications and how they use the API. John Witchel lead the Prosper API Workshop.
I have been part of Prosper since early 2007. I have written about it very loosely here, here and here. During the conference I learned a lot of new things, primarily these should help me bring up my ROI and should help me pickup loans that are less likely to default. I currently have 3 loans past due for more than 4 months, and one late more than 30 days.
Also, one of the people I met at the conference, Marilyn Paguirian has recently been featured in a Time magazine article. I also got the opportunity to briefly chat with the guys behind Wealthboy.com, ProProsper.com, rateladder.com.