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Digital Media Veteran Joanne Bradford Joins Online Lender SoFi as COO

Bradford will oversee the alternative lender's marketing, business development and community teams.

Asa Mathat
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Joanne Bradford* has served as a CMO, CRO and company president. Now she’s adding COO to her resume.

The longtime media executive, most recently Pinterest’s head of partnerships, is joining heavily funded online lender SoFi as its chief operating officer. SoFi, which raised $200 million earlier this year, is among a new breed of online lenders that bypass banks and allow borrowers to connect with individual and institutional investors. The best known of these alternative lenders, Lending Club, went public last year, but has had a bumpy ride in its first nine months as a public company and is currently trading below its $15 IPO price.

SoFi makes underwriting decisions based on a variety of non-traditional factors including a borrower’s education level and work history. Like many lenders, the company has also traditionally factored in a person’s FICO credit score, but is in the process of phasing that practice out.

“This sort of feels like when I went into Internet advertising when I first went to Microsoft — it was such a huge opportunity to serve the consumer in a better way,” Bradford said in an interview with Re/code. “People love SoFi and they don’t usually say that about their financial institutions.”

Co-founded in 2011 by CEO Mike Cagney, SoFi became best known for helping borrowers refinance their student loans, but has since expanded into mortgage lending and MBA and parent loans. The company has more than 300 employees and says it will originate more than $4 billion in loans this year. It is currently in the process of raising a big investment from SoftBank, according to the Wall Street Journal.

As COO, Bradford will oversee the company’s marketing, business development and community teams. She said a huge focus will be on building a strong community among borrowers through events and career counseling so that they are not one-time customers but instead look to SoFi as their financial needs change throughout their lives. Asked if she’s being groomed to someday take over as CEO, as is sometimes the case when a fast-growing startup hires an experienced COO, Bradford declined to entertain the suggestion.

“I’m super excited to be COO,” she said.

In a management shuffle this past June, Bradford left Pinterest, where she worked for 18 months after a brief stint as president of the San Francisco Chronicle. She has previously served as chief revenue and marketing officer at Demand Media and in senior revenue roles at Yahoo and Microsoft.

* Disclosure: Bradford was an independent board member of Re/code parent company Revere Digital before it was acquired by Vox Media, but has had no involvement in our editorial process.

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