A La Mode Carves Out Mercury Network for Private Equity Acquisition
Mercury Network, the mortgage lender and appraisal management company software unit of a la mode, was acquired by private equity firm Serent Capital, the companies announced Thursday.
The transaction creates two separate companies: Mercury Network, which develops software for mortgage lenders and AMCs; and a la mode, which retains its software offerings for appraisers, mortgage brokers and real estate agents. The acquisition price for the all-cash carve-out was not disclosed.
Mercury Network boasts customer growth of 375% during the past four years and currently has more than 600 clients, with lenders and AMCs using its technology to manage more than 20,000 appraisal transactions per day, according to a company release.
"We conceived, built, incubated, and eventually spun off Mercury Network entirely inside a la mode, with one clear purpose — to protect appraisers from the income-robbing effects of the HVCC and its aftermath, by providing lenders with a compelling alternative to the draconian and ultimately ineffective vendor management models in vogue at the time," a la mode founder and chairman Dave Biggers said in the release.
"As we now pass that torch to Mercury's staff and to Serent, we're confident they'll continue to push Mercury even further," he added. "We're very excited about their future, and of course ours as well, as we're now able to deploy new resources and focus even more specifically on the appraiser's side of the lending transaction."
The carve out of the Mercury Network business took approximately two years and involved transferring Mercury Network's applications and data onto new servers, according to a source familiar with the transaction. The Mercury Network staff has already relocated to its new headquarters office in Oklahoma City, while a la mode remains headquartered in Naples, Fla., with additional offices in Oklahoma City and Salt Lake City.
In addition to multiple appearances on the annual Mortgage Technology Top 50 Service Providers list, a la mode was the recipient of the 2012 Transforming Valuations Mortgage Technology Award and the 2014 Harnessing Mobile MT Award.
Serent Capital has approximately $600 million in capital under management, including a stake in Dallas-based Optimal Blue, which develops mortgage product and pricing technology. The San Francisco firm was founded in 2008 and generally commits $10 million to $50 million in its investments.
As a standalone vendor, Mercury Network owns the following technologies:
- Mercury Network, a platform for lenders and AMCs to order appraisals and other property valuation reports
- Mercury Mobile, a mobile app for appraisers to manage order requests
- Enterprise Vendor Framework (EVF), an implementation of Mercury Network that lets lenders manage multiple AMCs
- DataCourier, a portal for delivering and storing completed appraisals, as well as uploading XML reports to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's Uniform Collateral Data Portal
- Appraisal Quality Management (AQM), appraisal quality control review and scoring software
- SureReceipts, an electronic signature and document management system
The remaining a la mode product suite includes:
- Elite System, business management platforms for appraisers, mortgage brokers and real estate agents
- Total, appraisal form-filling software
- Total for Mobile, an appraisal data entry and sketching mobile app
- Mercury Desktop, a portal for appraisers to submit completed orders to both Mercury Network and other appraisal management platforms (the product will be rebranded by the end of 2015)
- UAD Reader, software to view appraisal PDF that's embedded in Uniform Appraisal Dataset XML files
- Pipeline ROI, a website marketing and content management system for mortgage brokers and real estate agents