With an Eye Toward Global Expansion,
Tala adds Kevin Novak as Chief Data Officer
Novak, Uber’s first Head of Data Science, joins executive team to drive vision for Tala’s mobile-first global financial services platform
SANTA MONICA, December 8, 2017 -- Tala, which leverages mobile technology and machine learning to transform financial services in emerging markets, announced today the addition of Kevin Novak, formerly Head of Data Science at Uber, to its executive team.
Novak will begin his tenure as Chief Data Officer during an exciting time in the company’s growth. Tala, which launched Kenya’s first smartphone-based lending app in 2014, has recently expanded operations into Tanzania and the Philippines and expects to launch in additional countries next year. To date, Tala has delivered more than 4 million loans for more than $190 million in origination, with growth above 94% month-over-month across all markets.
“Finding new and better data to prove the financial potential of underserved people is at the heart of our mission, and we couldn’t be more excited to have such an immensely talented and seasoned executive joining our team,” said Tala’s founder and CEO, Shivani Siroya. “Kevin’s experience, expertise and passion are a perfect fit for our company as we work to create opportunity in new markets.”
Tala’s lending app uses a combination of Android and behavioral data to instantly underwrite customers who have little or no formal credit history. Proprietary global models for credit and identity help Tala develop an alternative credit score, or financial identity, for these customers, along with personalized financial services like instant credit. An estimated two billion people around the world have no formal credit score, and three billion are considered financially underserved.
Novak will leverage his experience building global data products and platforms at Uber to help Tala expand operations in Latin America and Asia while also deepening product offerings in existing markets.
“Tala is working with one of the most exciting data sets imaginable, and with the goal of building financial services that include more of the world’s people,” said Novak. “I’m blown away by the team’s passion and commitment and by the great work already underway. I look forward to working with Tala’s existing data scientists and global teams to guide the company’s next chapter.”
Over more than six years at Uber, Novak built the company’s first data science organization, helped launch UberFreight, and invented dynamic pricing, among other accomplishments. A seasoned leader, he also managed some of Uber’s top performing employees.
Novak is the latest addition to Tala’s growing executive team. In September, Gaurav Bhargava joined Tala as a VP of Credit from Capital One, where he led analytical and product teams to develop cutting edge infrastructure focused on digital banking. In addition to Siroya and Bhargava, Tala’s leadership includes CTO Johnny Lee, whose previous company was sold to Apple in 2014.
Tala is a leading mobile technology and data science company committed to unlocking financial access, choice and control for underserved people globally. Tala’s smartphone app uses thousands of alternative data signals to deliver instant credit and help customers build their financial identities. Tala, formerly known as InVenture, is backed by IVP, Ribbit Capital, Lowercase Capital, Data Collective, Collaborative Fund and other leading venture and impact investors. In 2016, Fast Company ranked Tala, formerly known as InVenture, as one of its top 10 companies in Money, and Forbes named Tala as one of the top 50 FinTech companies in the world. Tala is headquartered in Santa Monica with additional offices in Nairobi and Manila.