PeopleFirst Drives Away With $36M

With b-to-b companies currently flooding the venture capital community, it was almost a bit of a surprise when b-to-c auto loan conduit PeopleFirst Finance LLC recently announced that it had completed its third round of venture funding. The San Diego-based outfit raised $36.5 million from the transaction, bringing its venture fundraising total to about $61 million.

Madison Dearborn Partners led the deal with a $15 million investment with other new participants, including Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Venture Partners, Richland Ventures, American Express and Mail Boxes Etc. Existing investors JP Morgan Capital Corp., Moore Capital and Chrysalis Ventures also participated. Irv Bailey Capital Corp., which had been involved in both of PeopleFirst’s previous venture rounds, chose not to invest in round three.

Gary Miller, chief executive at PeopleFirst, said that proceeds from the transaction will be used for working capital and to sustain the firm’s rapid growth.

“There are a lot of other companies that offer products online, so we need to continue to grow and get our name out there in order to grab hold of the new people coming in,” Miller said. “Part of the way we’ve positioned ourselves as a leader in the industry is through our strategic relationships with companies like Creditland, Yahoo… and Kelley Blue Book.”

Despite the self-proclaimed leadership position, Miller would not reveal the number of hits PeopleFirst receives each month nor the number of loans it has given out via its “blank check” system.

He similarly refused a request for the company’s current valuation, although he did mention that the firm completed an automobile securitization last year of around $100 million.