FORTUNE -- First former Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack joined the board of peer-to-peer investment site Lending Club. Then came Kleiner Perkins's Mary Meeker, followed by the preeminent economist Lawrence Summers. Now Lending Club has picked up another high-profile backer: On May 2, the company announced that Google has taken a minority stake in the company. Through a secondary transaction, the search giant has joined Menlo Park-based Foundation Capital to buy shares worth $125 million from existing investors. As part of the deal, Googler David Lawee will take an observer seat on the board.
This is the second investment that Lawee has made since he left his role leading mergers and acquisitions at Google (GOOG) to start a late-stage venture capital group within the company. In January 2013, Google joined Tiger Global Management in making a $444 million investment in online survey site SurveyMonkey; Lawee also took on an observer role on the board as part of the investment, which was part of a strategy CEO Dave Goldberg used to help the company avoid going public.
Lending Club CEO Renaud Laplanche says the company is still on track to go public sometime next year. He spoke optimistically about a deepening relationship with Google, saying, "We'll work together in the next few months on a number of initiatives. But he declined to give details.
The announcement comes as the peer-to-peer lending industry gathers steam. The company boasts loan volume of $140 million in April, said Laplanche. It has enabled more than $1.6 billion in loans since 2007 -- $350 million of that came in last quarter.
Meanwhile, major competitor Prosper.com, which hit a setback in 2009 when the SEC forced it to pause for six months while it looked into whether its loans should be classified as securities, came under new management earlier this year. President Aaron Vermut wrote in a recent blog post that the company saw its highest loan origination level ever in April with $20.2 million in loans made on the platform. The company has enabled $500 million in total since it started in 2006.
It's likely that Google's interest in Lending Club is more financial than strategic. Unlike Google Ventures, the company's venture capital arm that puts money into a variety of companies at all stages -- from the home thermostat company Nest to Blue Bottle Coffee -- and is run separately from Google, Lawee's efforts are focused on larger late-stage investments that produce significant returns.
Of course, it's likely true that Google is also interested in understanding financial innovation more deeply. After all, one day earlier, Google Ventures along with co-founder Peter Thiel and Industry Ventures announced a $17 million round in On Deck Capital, a company that offers an alternative approach to lending for small businesses.
Three of the Bay Area's marquee investment firms want to capture the most interesting ideas before they're hatched.
FORTUNE -- It was classic Sergey Brin. Dressed in sports shorts, an exercise shirt and blue Crocs, the Google co-founder showed up riding an elliptical bicycle, and as he does these days, wearing Glass, Google's futuristic wearable computer that fits on a head mounted display. Oh, and he was a few minutes late.
The MOREMiguel Helft, senior writer - Apr 10, 2013 5:00 PM ET
Also: Why Silicon Valley is so darned narcissistic; Lenovo reveals record quarterly earnings.
Product questions and threats of higher tax hit Apple shares [THE NEW YORK TIMES]
Owners of Apple shares would have good reason to fear higher taxes on capital gains. Apple shares have appreciated mightily since 2005 when they were about $35 apiece; they began this year at $411 and peaked at more than $700 in late September. The drop MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Nov 8, 2012 4:11 PM ET
Nokia to lay off thousands; what Facebook knows about you.
Microsoft manufacturing tablet to rival Apple iPad [THE WRAP]
The company has scheduled a secretive event for Monday at 3:30 p.m. June 18 in Los Angeles, where it will make a "major" announcement whose nature has not been disclosed. Even the venue has not yet been announced. But an individual with knowledge of the company said that Microsoft would introduce a Microsoft-manufactured tablet MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Jun 15, 2012 10:48 AM ET
A group of venture capitalists and private equity investors discussed the challenges and rewards of early and late stage investing in web companies today. Fundamentally, the game hasn't changed: You can't win if you can't pick winners.
Panelists: Adam Clammer, head of technology group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts; Bill Maris, Managing Partner, Google Ventures; Henry Ellenbogen, Portfolio manager, T.Rowe Price; Jerry Murdock, Special Limited Partner, Insight Venture Partners; Mike Maples, Managing Partner, Floodgate; Dana Settle, Partner, Greycroft MOREJul 20, 2011 6:20 PM ET
What do TV viewers want in the Internet era? Now that mobile devices offer couch potato a second, interactive screen, Miso is finding new answers to that question.
This story is one in a series leading up to the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference, which will be held from July 19-21 in Aspen, Colorado. Fortune Brainstorm Tech will round up many of the best and brightest thinkers in technology. Our coverage in this series MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Jul 18, 2011 9:57 AM ET
Speakers at Brainstorm GREEN have been stopping by Fortune's virtual conference to take questions from online attendees:
Bill Weihl, Green Energy Czar, Google (GOOG)
What comments might [you] have about the "Bloom Box" replacing a National Grid?
Weihl: There's a role for both distributed generation and centralized power plants -- I expect we'll see both -- and the Bloom Box will play a part in distributed generation.
Last year Google bought a decommissioned papermill MOREApr 6, 2011 3:28 PM ET
The innovative Google Ventures Law services site is getting advice from former top Apple lawyer, Dan Cooperman.
LawPivot is kind of a Quora-ish Q&A site for legal advice for startups and small businesses. Lawyers post profiles and answer questions online in their forums. Business owners can then find legal advice by asking LawPivot legal questions. Those questions are tagged and matched against a database of information gathered from the lawyers on the subject matter.
As MORESeth Weintraub - Mar 7, 2011 1:53 PM ET
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