Mortgage Startup Blend Labs Enters Homeowners Market With MetLife

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Blend Labs Inc., a startup that first became known by helping big banks make it easier for homebuyers to get a mortgage online, is branching out into a new industry: insurance.

The San Francisco-based company is launching Blend Insurance Agency. Much like its mortgage platform, the firm will leverage partnerships with large insurers to scale its business by pairing the offerings. One of those initial partners will be MetLife Inc., a U.S. insurer with more than $700 billion in assets.
“Blend is the kind of partner you are looking for because our visions are much positioned,” said Kevin Chean, group auto and home vice president at MetLife, adding that the company wants to strengthen its digital presence to meet changing consumer preferences. “They’re used to making their shopping more online.”

According to Blend, there will be six more partners to start on the platform. Managers said that switching to the landlord’s insurance is a natural extension of the mortgage business. Buyers often need evidence of insurance to close a home loan. With this new product, consumers will be able to accelerate that process by going to several different websites and filling in duplicate information.

“For the consumer, insurance is the most important part of buying your home and buying your home,” said Greg Isaacs, a new venture of Blend with about 20 employees. “Home buying and mortgage operations are a complex and stressful part and insurance is often a blind spot.”

The company was founded three years ago by three former Palantir Technologies employees. The core business sells technology to lenders who help create a more efficient and consumer-friendly mortgage loan experience. The company now has more than 80 partners with customers who control more than 25 percent of the total US mortgage market. Investors such as the Founder Fund, Greylock Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners drove the company for $ 160 million, hoping it would continue to grow rapidly.

“We are in a unique position to sell it,” said Nima Ghamsari, president of Blend’s founding and executive board. “I think he has a chance to make a difference.”

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