Frisco, Texas-based BridgeSpan Inc. is winding down the operations of its BridgeSpan title companies in Texas and Southern California,Inman News has learned.

“BridgeSpan Title Co. ceased all operations as of Jan. 9, 2004. All escrow orders are now in the possession of the appropriate underwriters. Borrowers should contact lenders directly for assistance…,” a message on the company’s telephone answering system stated.

BridgeSpan, which also provides mortgage processing technology, introduced its online title and closing operations in 2001, two years after the company was founded. The eMortgage Axis loan automation system was launched the following year. A login for that product has taken over the BridgeSpan Web site, another indication that the title company has been shuttered. The mortgage technology operations are still very much open for business, according to CEO Larry Walker.

BridgeSpan was founded in 1999 as EZClose.com, an online title and closing service for residential real estate transactions. The Texas title company conducted business in 42 states.

Online transaction management, title and closing systems have been notoriously difficult business models to execute with success. GURU Networks and WinTrans Solutions are the two independents still alive in the space. A number of other early entrants have long since ceased operations or been acquired by larger companies, such as Fidelity National Title and First American.

BridgeSpan introduced its eMortgage Axis product in October 2002, but adoption has been slow. The product is billed as being integrated with existing loan origination software and other lender systems to automate the loan process from origination through processing to closing to investor delivery.

The mortgage automation product was nominated for Inman Innovator Awards in both 2002 and 2003 in the “technology innovation in lending” category.

BridgeSpan was financed by venture capital from Benchmark Capital, Sequoia Capital and Capital Research and Management Co. Mark Evans of Benchmark Capital took over as CEO in July 2000, when the company changed its name from EZClose to BridgeSpan. He returned to Benchmark Capital some two years later after the company launched eMortgage Axis.

Walker then was hired as president and CEO. He previously had been managing director of financial services at EDS and had held executive positions with Bank of America, First Nationwide Bank, Mellon Mortgage and ITT Financial Services.

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