The Ghost of Second Source Funding Has Lost a Desperate Court BattleFebruary 4, 2016 | By: Sean Murray
The notorious company returned from the dead for one last final stand
For many veterans of the merchant cash advance business, the Second Source Funding name is something they’d rather forget. They were perhaps the largest funding ISO in the industry between 2006 and 2008. And as plenty of ex-employees will tell you, the story ends badly.
Meir Hurwitz, a co-founder of NY based Pearl Capital, immortalized the Second Source years through a Bloomberg exposé about how his own company rose and sold for $40 million. In his tale, he claimed that Second Source founder Sam Chanin still owed him $2 million for the work he performed there. For Hurwitz, the falling out set the stage for the company he would go on to start. For other employees, it was the beginning of a grudge that would stick around for almost a decade.
Chanin has gone so far as to admit on his blog that he became known as “the guy who ripped them off and didn’t pay their residuals.” According to him, it wasn’t his fault. Court records do show Second Source Funding filing a complaint against Cynergy Data back in 2009 for $60 million in damages. Cynergy was the processor behind their lucrative merchant services operation and ultimately where the residuals they paid out to sales agents originated from. The case was dismissed in October of that year because Cynergy declared bankruptcy.
Effectively shuttered by the circumstances, the only reminder of what had once been, was another lawsuit filed by Second Source in September 2012 against a company (and more than 30 co-defendants) that acquired Cynergy Data’s assets. In October of 2009, Cynergy’s assets were reportedly sold to The Comvest Group for $81 million. In the complaint, Second Source sought at least $50 million from them in damages.
It has been approximately seven years since Second Source’s days ended, sources estimate. Users on industry forums were already speaking of the company in the past tense as far back as early 2009. The Second Source website no longer even exists. While ex-employees have long urged old peers to move on from those days, others have been forced to confront their demons.
THE GHOST OF MERCHANT CASH ADVANCE PAST
In September of 2014, the very same Second Source Funding emerged through a complaint filed in the Supreme Court of New York against Yellowstone Capital, LLC, 8 named co-defendants and 25 John Doe defendants. Seeking damages in the astounding amount of $360 million, Second Source alleged that Yellowstone’s co-founders stole their “revolutionary business model” of which they describe as using “Independent Sales Offices to leverage economies of scale in marketing and selling a bundle of financial services, including credit card processing and cash advances.” As a result of that and other claims, they were allegedly the reason for “Plaintiff SSF going out of business.”
The ensuing battle was probably one of the most contentious litigations the industry has ever experienced, at least from what can be seen on the docket. In one publicly filed exhibit introduced by Yellowstone, was the draft of a complaint that the plaintiffs had allegedly sent them that named more than 40 defendants. It reads like a yearbook of the merchant cash advance industry in 2009.
Other exhibits are packed with plenty of Second Source era nostalgia, including copies of the entrance exams given to new hires. One test question embodies the culture of the time, when it asked applicants:
What movie is this quote from, “Put the coffee down, coffee is for closers?”
While motions and cross motions at times appear to venture into the arena of insanity, especially considering Second Source went out of business a long time ago, deBanked has learned that Yellowstone was vindicated this week in a decision that dismissed all the claims with prejudice. That means they can’t have a do-over. The suit lasted 17 months.
deBanked has been quietly following the docket for over a year. We did not ask either party to comment on the decision for the reason being that Second Source may be considering an appeal, or at least they alluded to that in the court transcripts.
In the meantime, the ghost of Second Source reminded a few people in the merchant cash advance industry that the antics of 2006-2008 were more than just tall tales told by grey beard Wall Street guys. Back then the coffee was still for closers only. And back then, the game was so different that some people would still be feeling the effects of it a decade later.
THEN AND NOW
Yellowstone Capital was one of the first merchant cash advance companies to experiment with the ACH payment method. Today, they originate nearly a half billion dollars a year in funded deals.
If you want to see just how much has changed since the Second Source days, check out this answer to the Second Source exam in 2008.
Q: If a merchant is getting an advance from MCA and can’t switch processors, what can the agent offer this merchant?
A: Lock box
It’s amazing to think that ACH was inconceivable at the time. Touched by ghosts indeed…Last modified: February 4, 2016
Sean Murray is the founder of deBanked, an 11-year veteran of the merchant cash advance industry, a casual Lending Club and Prosper note investor, the co-founder of Daily Funder, an alternative lending speaker, consultant, writer, and enthusiast. Connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on twitter.