The boy who flew too close to the sun



The news in my world this week was dominated by Anthony Scaramucci. You know who he is so I’ll skip the background. But… I can’t help from mentioning this little factoid: In Italian theater, a scaramuccia is a menacing court jester who inevitably falls from grace.  Go figure.

Anyway, Scaramucci lives less than 10 miles from me, which made his political flameout and public marital issues a source of local entertainment in my house, in my office, and even in my doctor’s office. As my dermatologist put it, “His tenure was shorter than a sunburn… or a zit.”

His desperate political aspirations and wild media persona as a guy who craves close proximity to the president got me thinking about the dangers of flying too close to the sun, to use a Greek metaphor.  I’ve met Scaramucci in person and what you see on TV is exactly the guy you get.  He’s teeming with charisma but doesn’t have an ounce of humility.

On Wednesday, as I switched from reading articles about Scaramucci to articles heading for layout in The Alternative Lending Report, my newsletter on alt-lending strategies, I found myself drawing a tiny parallel between Scaramucci and William Skelley, the CEO of real estate crowdfunding platform iFunding.

Like Scaramucci, Skelley is an ex-hedge fund exec who was a regular on the conference circuit and a media commentator who talked up the benefits of alternative lending platforms.  When I went to check the spelling of his last name on LinkedIn, I noticed his profile picture was even taken at CNBC’s recording studio.

I don’t know Skelley and I haven’t done business with iFunding but word on the street is that they’re having some significant business issues.  My hunch is that they aren’t the only real estate crowdfunding platform that’s been flying too close to the sun – they might just be in the unfortunate position to be first to get flamed.

Based on various online bulletin boards, it sounds like iFunding was high-flying right up until the point that investors started complaining the platform had gone dark. According to sources who spoke openly for the article in The Alternative Lending Report, iFunding is currently not returning phone calls. That’s always a bad sign.

But stepping away from iFunding for a minute, just think about this: With the glut of real estate platforms pitching everything from shopping malls to lawnmower sheds (and finding investors for those sheds, to boot!), what’s the probability we’ll be hearing about other struggling platforms with disgruntled investors? High I’d say.

Best regards,
Steven

P.S. Enjoy the rest of the summer, and wear your sunblock.