[caption id="attachment_212724" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Paul Ricci will take over Best Egg as the growing fintech company seeks to grow core and accessory products to near-prime clients. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
WILMINGTON – Best Egg founder and CEO Jeffrey Meiler, who grew a startup online lending company into a fintech leader of Delaware, has stepped down and turned the reins over to Paul Ricci, the founding chief financial officer.
[caption id="attachment_212715" align="alignright" width="300"] Jeffrey Meiler, the founder and CEO of Best Egg, has resigned from the company, officials said. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
Meiler, a veteran of Barclays and its Wilmington predecessor, Juniper Bank, has served as the face of the company formerly known as Marlette Funding as it grew from a small outfit in the Wilmington suburbs to one with a Buccini/Pollin Group-built headquarters and about 900 employees.According to a Tuesday statement, Meiler resigned from the private company. It did not characterize the move as a retirement or comment on what Meiler's future plans.“His decision to resign was difficult, but ultimately driven by his belief that it was in his and the company's best interest to hand over the reins to the leadership team to guide Best Egg into its next phase of growth,” said Jack Klinck, executive chair of Best Egg's Board of Directors, in a statement. “The Board appreciates Jeffrey Meiler's exceptional leadership in building a high-performing company and fostering a strong organizational culture.”
[caption id="attachment_231961" align="alignleft" width="300"] CEO Paul Ricci | PHOTO COURTESY OF BEST EGG[/caption]
Ricci, who had worked with Meiler several times over the past few decades and joined Best Egg in 2014, said the transition that came shortly after new product launches and a corporate rebranding was not planned for long.“[Jeffrey] made the decision pretty quickly. That's part of what makes him a strong leader. He’s pretty decisive in moving forward,” Ricci told Delaware Business Times on Thursday.Looking back, Ricci, who has served as the company's chief financial officer twice from 2014 to 2017 and since 2020, said he feels that Meiler prepared him for the role by including him in decision-making and operational updates across the company in recent years.Klinck said Ricci had the support of the C-Suite and the company’s board, adding that, "With his deep understanding of the Best Egg business cultivated through his tenure as CFO, Paul has proven himself to be an exceptional leader. He has played a vital role in the company's success, driving continued growth and fostering its award-winning culture. The Board is confident that Paul will seamlessly transition into his new role and lead Best Egg to a future filled with success."In conjunction with Ricci’s appointment, Bobby Ritterbeck has been named president, a new role that will manage day-to-day operations, and Andrew Deringer has been named chief financial officer. Ritterbeck was employee No. 2 at Best Egg, who most recently served as president of consumer lending, while Deringer came to Best Egg in 2019 after serving as head of the institutional investor group at rival Lending Club, where he built their nationwide bank program.Ricci takes over a company that has grown immensely in a decade. It began by offering loans to near-prime credit rate customers entirely online, using a proprietary algorithm to identify borrowers who were stronger than at first glance. It has since rolled out a credit card, flexible rent program, auto equity loans, and financial health tools all under the Best Egg brand name.“We're just really fortunate to have such a good business and a great culture, and I feel like my job right now is to make sure that continues and that we're maintaining the momentum that we have,” he said.With revenue growing quickly, especially as more people grow comfortable with online-only banking, Ricci said he sees the growth opportunity for Best Egg in adding supplemental products, like its vehicle equity loans and flexible rent tool, to its core personal loan and credit card products.“We need to continue to find products that serve our customers and drive growth through giving them more things to help them navigate their financial lives,” he said, noting that their core products still have significant runway for growth as well. Best Egg has been in growth mode in the past few years, adding hundreds of new employees, and today Ricci said that about two-thirds of its employees are within commuting distance of its Brandywine Hundred headquarters. Many of those employees report in on Wednesdays for weekly meetings, but Best Egg is still utilizing a hybrid work schedule while encouraging use of the space opened in 2021 by hosting food trucks, happy hours and more.Last year, the company raised a $225 million Series E equity round – its largest private equity round by far – and has continued to securitize its loans. Its latest asset-backed security, and 22nd overall, totaled more than $296 million.When asked whether Best Egg would consider a merger with a larger bank or an initial public offering versus remaining privately held, Ricci said that he’s happy with the company’s growth track.“We're happy with where we are in terms of continuing to grow the business and creating value by having the strongest growing business that we can. That opens up all sorts of possibilities for how we access capital down the road, continue to grow the business and support what we want to do for the customer," he said. “How we do that is to be determined.”