It’s been ten years since we founded Blend. It’s almost hard to believe that at that time the mortgage process was largely manual, time-consuming, and paper-based. We believed that data, not documents, was the future of banking. And we saw an opportunity to improve the overall experience on both sides of the desk. Our mission to bring simplicity and transparency to financial services in the wake of a global financial crisis provided the foundation for our efforts. But strong customer partnerships — and the joint innovation and determination that they fostered — are ultimately what drove our success.
As Blend enters a new decade of operation, we can’t help but reflect on key moments from the past ten years of Blend. So much has happened — some things have flown by in the blink of an eye, and some have had long arcs. We’ve been fortunate to celebrate many achievements and have also learned from the obstacles we inevitably encountered yet were able to overcome.
Through it all, the unwavering support from our customers and members of Blendkind has given us the motivation to stay focused on what matters most: building better products, deepening customer relationships, and cultivating a diverse and innovative workforce, all in service of ultimately giving people the possibility of a brighter financial future.
Milestones and moments
From idea to implementation
Blend was born out of the ashes of the great recession when Americans’ confidence in banking had hit an all-time low.
One of the most important decisions we made early on was to focus on partnering, rather than competing, with banks, credit unions, fintechs, and non-bank mortgage lenders — believing that working together was the most efficient way to realize our vision of better lending for all.
We saw an opportunity to improve the customer experience through digitization while maximizing financial institutions’ competitive agility. We had the idea and the innovation, but we needed the support and insights of financial services firms to bring our vision to fruition.
From small beginnings
In 2016, we officially welcomed our first customer into the Blend family. We’re fortunate that they embraced our technology, shared our long-term vision, and gave us the confidence to persevere. As we continued to refine and expand our product offerings, we were able to grow our partnerships. Throughout the years, we’ve worked and learned alongside one another, through our successes and downturns alike.
Now here we are, with a community of over 350 customers. From some of the country’s top financial services firms and non-bank mortgage lenders to local credit unions, our customers believe in us to build more products. And in turn, we believe in their ability to help consumers build better financial futures.
From mortgage to so much more
Financial services are multi-faceted, and by working closely with customers, we were able to better understand — and even anticipate — more of their needs. In fact, nearly two-thirds of our total customer base use two or more of our software products or marketplace offerings, signaling trust that we’ll continue to work with them and develop even deeper ties.
In the years following our initial product launch, we expanded into consumer banking with auto lending, deposit accounts, credit cards, and personal loans. Meanwhile, we remained dedicated to our set of mortgage products, adding self-serve, instant pre-approval and a number of other major quality of life improvements. These Consumer Banking and Mortgage suites have given our customers the convenience of out-of-the-box delivery with the flexibility to tailor usage in alignment with how their business works.
We always keep two things in mind when we’re innovating new products: our customers, and the financial services consumers they serve. In 2020, and in support of a truly digital and end-to-end process, we launched Blend Close, a streamlined solution serving consumers, loan teams, and settlement agents from application to close — all within Blend.
Income verification can be one of the most tedious, time-consuming tasks for both lenders and borrowers. In 2021, we offered Blend Income Verification as our “easy button” solution that, through efficiency gains and increased accuracy, can give financial services teams more time to prioritize people over paperwork.
Last year, on July 16, 2021, we reached one of our biggest milestones to-date — Blend officially became a publicly listed company (NYSE: BLND). Our IPO meant so many things: the culmination of years of hard work and dedication, the beginning of a new chapter in Blend’s history, and most importantly, the ability to serve our customers for decades to come.
Putting purpose to work
As we’ve been building products that will help our customers improve consumers’ financial well-being, we’ve also been intentionally building a diverse and innovative workplace.
Our ten-and-counting Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are integral to life at Blend. Not only do they foster inclusivity and a sense of belonging, ERGs give employees a platform to influence our policies and culture.
Women are largely underrepresented in the tech industry. We believe in advocating for gender parity, and in 2021, we hit a major milestone: we became majority women and gender diverse folx, with over 52% representation as of March, 2022.
In May 2021, we signed on to the Pledge 1% commitment. Advocating for financial inclusion is a moral and business imperative at Blend, and allocating our time and resources is at the heart of our commitment to increasing access and equity in housing and financial services through our product.
With our culture of learning comes a recognition that obstacles are inevitable — but that the wisdom of learning through adversity is incontrovertible.
Over the past two years, we’ve been thrilled to help existing and new customers rapidly deploy digital innovations to offer consumers fast, flexible, and adaptable services. But we’ve also faced challenges of our own: keeping up with the pace of unprecedented demand for digital banking services while maintaining our gold standard for customer service; ensuring that our employees are able to thrive both personally and professionally despite a litany of global challenges.
And we did it – largely thanks to our customers’ unwavering support and the dedication of every member of Blendkind.
While we knew that the pandemic-fueled surge in activity wouldn’t be sustainable in the long term, we couldn’t have predicted such a seismic shift in the mortgage market. And here we are, facing another potential downturn and the tough decisions that come along with it.
Over the past ten years, we have certainly encountered many hurdles. As we look to the next ten years, we know that we will likely face many more. But we also know that it’s how you move forward — and who you have by your side — that counts.
Here’s to the next ten years
As the face of banking evolves, so, too will our customers’ needs. Which means our technology must be customizable, scalable, and agile. By adding new, configurable products, like Blend Builder, we aim to make things easier for consumers and financial institutions alike.
With an industry-leading platform, a growing roster of customers who are well-positioned for the next upturn, and an increase in revenue diversity as we bring more customers live on our ever-growing portfolio of products and services, we are in an excellent position to drive digital transformation at a time when institutions need it most.
No one can predict the future, but thinking about what it likely holds helps us decide what course to take in the here-and-now. As we think about the future of finance — and how Blend’s technology can help power it — we’re confident that the next decade in Blend’s history will continue to be defined by our commitments to our customers, to our employees, and to better banking for all.