Some tidbits on Upstart

Since I have an overweight allocation on UPST I think it’s a good idea to keep Upstart on a short leash. For me, this means trying to not only follow the news around it but also to think of questions or possible concerns and try to find an answer before needed. Having a proactive approach instead of just waiting for news or concerns to appear.

These are the questions I attempt to answer in this post:

  1. There is a long hold time when trying to reach customer support via phone as expressed by some customers. Is the support slow via email too?
  2. What is the hiring process like when trying to apply and what is the culture behind the scenes?
  3. How are the marketing efforts affecting the online presence and traffic of
  4. Any plans of accepting Canadian or EU clients?
  5. Is upstart looking to get into BNPL space and if yes, when?
  6. Are we at the mercy of analysts?

1. There is a long hold time when trying to reach customer support via phone as expressed by some customers. Is the support slow via email too?

As many people here on the board mentioned already, there is a delay when potential clients try to reach Upstart via phone. I wanted to see how the support via email is, so I sent 2 different emails via 2 different email addresses. I got a reply within a few hours on both of my questions. The replies came from 2 different persons. So, email support was spot on.

2. What is the hiring process like when trying to apply and what is the culture behind the scenes?

I recently applied for an open position through Even though I do not live in the US I wanted to apply anyway to see if I could get any info on the hiring process and the culture of the company. This was a legitimate interest in working for the company and the job description matched my experience to a reasonable degree besides the obvious requirement of being a US citizen. Within a few minutes I received this reply:

Dear Pavlos,

We received your resume for the “------” role here at Upstart. We appreciate your interest and our team looks forward to reviewing your background. We review profiles daily and will reach out in the next couple of weeks if your profile aligns with one of our open opportunities. There is no need to apply a second time.
Meanwhile, we invite you to follow us on LinkedIn and keep an eye on our blog for the news on Upstart.

Upstart Hiring Team

And within 48 hours I received this:

Hi Pavlos,

Thank you for your interest in joining Upstart and applying to the “-----” position. We understand it takes time and effort to evaluate opportunities, and we are grateful that you considered Upstart. Regrettably, we have decided to move forward with others at this time.
Please keep in touch by following us on LinkedIn to stay apprised of company updates. We wish you the best in your pursuits!

Upstart Recruiting Team

My take-home message is that Upstart has a significant pool of qualified candidates willing to join the team. Within 48 hours the position had already been filled. And I checked on the website to confirm and the position was no longer active.

Has anyone else tried to apply before? Or is anyone based in the US willing/interested to apply?

3. How are the marketing efforts affecting the online presence and traffic of

Organic traffic seems to have almost doubled in the last 6 months while paid traffic remains relatively flat which is nice to see organic growing faster than paid. Organic traffic went from 190K to almost 380K for desktop and from 160K to 320K on mobile.

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Organic traffic shows the number of visitors that come to through searching on google. Paid search traffic is attributed to visitors clicking on a link in an advertisement/sponsored listing that a business has paid for to appear at the top of the search results.

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As this might include a large number of possible investors, I compared the results from the upstart login keyword as well. This shows that the trend is moving higher too. Both on mobile and desktop we see that the interest has almost doubled within the last 2 months.

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One thing I found interesting is the fact that the paid traffic has seen a rapid increase for Canada for this month. You can see the jump from 0 to almost 4.5K. As I understand, Upstart serves only US citizens at the moment. Is this an attempt to start accepting CA clients too? Perhaps testing the waters? Can anyone add a bit more color to this?

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And what made it even more interesting is the keyword that they are targeting. It seems that they get most of their paid traffic when people search for is a Canadian platform that works with over 50+ financial partners in Canada to find loans that match your credit profile.

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–>My take is that the online presence of is moving upwards. This includes people visiting the site including potential clients and/or investors as well as people trying to log in (clients). And perhaps the company is preparing for allowing Canadian clients too.

4. Any plans of accepting Canadian or EU clients?

Because of the Semrush results I got on paid traffic for Canada, I wanted to see if the company had any plans on that, so I emailed Upstart to ask about any plans of accepting EU or Canadian clients and this is the reply I got:


Thanks for reaching out.

Unfortunately, we cannot accept applications outside of the United States due to one of the eligibility requirements is for applicants to have a U.S. address.
Our loan eligibility requirements are located here:…

If you have any questions, you can email Upstart® Loan Operations at, or you can call us at (650) 204-1000. Our phone lines are open every day from 6am-5pm Pacific Time, except New Years Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.

Best Regards,
Upstart® Loan Operations

–>So, I don’t know why they would target Canadian keywords and try to take share from Maybe just testing the waters?

5. Is upstart looking to get into BNPL space?

I was curious whether Upstart had any plans to join the BNPL space because of all the buzz lately. So, I emailed Upstart IR with that question, and this is the response I got within 24 hours from Jason Schmidt, VP Investor Relations, Upstart:

Hi Pavlos,

We have not announced or discussed an intention to enter buy now pay later at this stage. Please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.

VP, investor Relations

–>Now, I don’t know whether there is an intention to do so at a later stage, but this is all I got. My take is just that. That they have no plans to enter the space as of now.

6. Are we at the mercy of analysts?

It seems that the market gets excited or worried according to what analysts do or say. I bet analysts spend less than 1/10th of the time we do on researching the companies we follow. And that they are usually late to adjust their price targets. I don’t remember anyone here worrying about investing in Upstart when the analysts’ PT were far below what we thought possible. Personally, I would worry more if someone like jonwayne235 — who’s a proper student of the company with a pretty heavy allocation — spotted something alarming instead of any analyst. Just my 2 cents.


“I think it’s a good idea to keep Upstart on a short leash. For me, this means trying to not only follow the news around it but also to think of questions or possible concerns and try to find an answer before needed”

Thanks for your detailed post. I also hold an overweight position in UPST, and therefore agree that it is important to pay close attention to news that might impact UPST fundamentals. While i might place less importance on the items you list, when i think of what could possibly go wrong that might change the picture on this unusually high conviction stock for me, i could think of only a few things. Despite what i consider to be their low probability, they do limit my UPST allocation to a merely insane level (35%):

Most importantly, UPST revenue growth could disappoint and fail to meet the baked in sky high expectations. My sense at this point is that we need revenue of $850M this year, $1.4B in 2022, and $2.2B for 2023, with prospects for continued 40%+ growth thereafter. This is the dominant variable to watch closely. When i try to think about what might inhibit that kind of hyper growth, I’m hard pressed to conceive of things to worry about.

I don’t worry about the things you outline because, except for the analyst issue, they are all variables under the control of highly capable management, and I wouldn’t question their judgement to do the smart things as long as the growth metrics are coming along. It would feel like micro management to me and they know the territory way better. I doubt the Board of Directors go there and i choose not to either.

I agree with the poster who felt nauseous about the customer complaint discussion. Someone on SA tried that ruse about my second top holding (FOUR). He listed a bunch of narrative customer complaints. I then found a bunch of complaints that said the same things about SQ and PYPL. It’s small time analysis, IMO. My job is to keep an eye on the bigger picture.

But i also find it necessary to consider matters that could go wrong, however remotely possible. Below are two:

  1. The CFPB begins an investigation concerning alleged discriminatory results in UPST’s system. UPST has received impressive support from the CFPB to date with two no action letters, so this possibility seems far fetched. But as UPST becomes a giant and grabs large lending share away from major legacy players, competitors might find a plausible way to accuse UPST. My guess is that UPST would be cleared though it would be painful.

  2. Cross River Bank and/or Finwise, neither of which are household names, become subject to Federal investigation that could put their ability to provide services to UPST in question. Though also unlikely, i would judge the chances of this occurring to be slightly greater given the PPP problems already associated with Cross River Bank. Here too, UPST would surely be able to find alternative servicer lenders but that transition will take time and revenue could be temporarily disrupted.

That is about all i worry about. I don’t really care about analyst valuation calls, and i’m not inclined to audit the company operations.

Some people talk about TAM concerns and feel a sense of urgency for UPST to move into this adjacency or that optionality. I don’t feel that concern. Top level managerial leaders with capability to burn will find ways to grow. That’s what ALL the great companies have done.

I liked your short leash metaphor because i feel that it wouldn’t take much justification for me to reduce my greatly outsized 35% position. This is the first time i’ve held a position greater than 20%. Usually, 12% is about as sizable as the largest position in my portfolio gets.

But i actually think it’s better for us to see this pullback before earnings, which in effect sets a lower bar. Oops! don’t start talking technicals. :slight_smile:




great work, thanks!

One comment I would like to make: ‘Regrettably, we have decided to move forward with others at this time.’ merely means you didn’t make it into the second round. It may be a coincidence that they managed to fill the position indeed within the next few days.

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As a continuation to my post of last week, I wanted to add some other tidbits on Upstart.

What would drive revenues up besides personal/auto loans?

Well, mortgages are of course a big catalyst for Upstart. But, to me, SMB lending is even more important. If you think about it, SMBs are at the very core of our economy. And there is a huge demand/need in that space.

Last week, Jeff Keltner posted on LinkedIn the following:…

Basically, he said that — even though this is not a product announcement, just a few thoughts from him personally — Upstart has been focused on consumer lending since its inception, but he sees a large opportunity in SMB lending as well.

He sees similar challenges between SMB lending and consumer lending like:

— Difficulty to assess true risk
— Hard to lend in this space profitable

And he continues, there are technologies that can help address these challenges and hence:

— Increase approvals
— Reduce costs

Lastly, he says, there is a big opportunity for financial institutions that can address these challenges and expand their ability to serve SMBs with lending products.

Now, this is what I believe would be great news for UPST.

Was anything noteworthy mentioned during the call with Nate Longfellow at Wells Fargo?

During the call with Nate Longfellow, Head of Digital, Product Strategy and Change Delivery - Home Lending at Wells Fargo there were several key mentions that might imply that big banks should adopt a platform like Upstart if they want to focus on the end consumer.

In my own words, Nate said that they want to reimagine the way they serve their customers. They want to offer products through digital technology and a customer engagement perspective to offer products that are aligned with their client’s needs so that they drive the highest value for their clients.

Best advice about the consumer lending space:

Keep the customer at the center of all you do. If the customer is not thought of as an internal part of the process, it will be difficult to stay ahead of the curve.

Bold prediction about the future:

Customers will rule. You have to empower the customer whether that’s frightening to the company or not. It’s happening either way.

Was there anything from Wells Fargo CEO that could enforce the idea that banks want to focus more on their society now more than ever?

Mark Scharf… said the pandemic has helped him and the Wells team remember its impact to the entire community, not just to shareholders.

“It’s made us all just laser focused on the obligations that we have that go beyond just traditionally making more money for your shareholders year in and year out. We play a hugely important role in society broadly.” he said. “We can make a difference. And you’ve got to have that lens and that mindset when you come into these jobs. And I think that’s something that’s changed forever, that’s not transitory.”

Also, Wells Fargo was part of the workstream participants
who want to ensure the full, equal, and fair participation of underserved and minority communities in the nation’s economy as found in the project REACh last week.…

Does it matter what Cramer says?

Personally, I’m not a buy-the-rumor-sell-the-news trader/investor. Put simply, I’m not going to increase or decrease my allocation depending on what someone mentioned on tv/social media unless that news comes directly from the actual company. And to be honest, it didn’t seem like that when I listened to Cramer saying it even though I’m not a native speaker and my speaking skills are not great so I could be wrong. But it seemed to me that Cramer was implying that Upstart hired Charles Scharf CEO of Wells Fargo. Not the other way around. Even the auto-generating subs picked it up like that too.

Now, will I be surprised if Wells Fargo partnered with Upstart? Nope. As a matter of fact, I expect banks — yes, even the big ones — to adopt Upstart at some point. Be it now or later, the time will come. And that is simply because they have no choice.

They either build their own (if they have the skills, resources, and TIME to do so), partner with someone (Upstart or anyone who has what they need), or get left behind. And remember, data alone does not get you to an Upstart platform. You could have all the data in the world but that would mean close to nothing unless you put it into your models, allow them time to learn, adjust them, make improvements, allow more time for the loans to mature, and then analyze the results. Then rinse and repeat while making improvements until you come up with a decent model.

Do you really think that banks — big or small — will want to just sit, waste time and money in an attempt to come up with their own version while there is an up-and-running, proven, turnkey solution on the market (Upstart) that other competitors are already using to drive their revenues up while serving more clients in a much better, fairer way while improving their employees’ day-to-day work life at the same time? I’m sure you can answer that.