Mortgage origination technology provider Ellie Mae [stock ELLI][/stock] exited the quiet period surrounding its recent initial public offering. And the chief strategy officer has a lot to say.
At first, Ellie Mae lowered pricing expectations
. Then, on its first day of trading, the price soared
. The stock hasn't moved much since, to be fair.
But how does a company selling technology products in a space that is contracting get so much interest? What are they doing right over there in Pleasanton, Calif.?
The instinct would be that this is a terrible time for a firm in a volatile field to enter into the volatile IPO market. "We were happy to put ourselves in a position to raise capital," said Jonathon Corr, chief strategy officer at Ellie Mae. "The growth in mortgage technology is clearly outpacing origination volumes."
Mortgage originations, by most accounts, are down by one-third
The conventional wisdom that mortgage originations is a field being dragged kicking and screaming into modernity is being replaced by the regulatory pressures and risk of buybacks. Corr himself predicted as much nearly a year ago
. Granted it's not a hard call.
"Folks are pushing back if things aren't done properly with a tight bow on it," Corr said. Ellie Mae recently launched an all-in-one product. Frankly, it seems someone is offering an all-in-one this or that every other day, and Ellie Mae doesn't seem that unique in the space.
Corr disagrees of course, but he did mention something in passing that caught my attention.
"The biggest driver of our growth is success-based pricing," he said.
What's success-based pricing? Corr explained that if a mortgage doesn't close, and the originator doesn't get paid, then neither does Ellie. The model started in the fourth quarter of 2009. By the end of last year, 8,500 clients were using the pricing model. By the end of 1Q 2011, there are 11,000 Ellie Mae clients using success-based pricing.
That translates to $5 million in revenue from success-based pricing last year and $2.4 million in the first quarter of 2011, Corr said.
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