Mark L. Korell, formerly the head of the nation's largest mortgage lender, has taken the post of chief executive officer at a start-up mortgage software company.

Mr. Korell, who left Norwest Mortgage in May, has joined Industrywide Mortgage Exchange in San Ramon, Calif.

Mr. Korell was in negotiations to take the chief executive job at Fleet Mortgage Group, the fourth-largest lender. He said he chose the offer from Industrywide Mortgage because the idea of working with a start-up company on the West Coast appealed to him.

Industrywide Mortgage Exchange, or IMX, is primarily owned by Hummer Winblad, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm that specializes in technology. Mr. Korell said the hope is for IMX someday to go public, a move that would raise capital and make the company a bigger player. Mr. Korell has taken an ownership stake in IMX as part of his compensation package.

IMX wants to be a one-stop shop for wholesale originators to build business through brokers, builders, and Realtors. The company's software system would allow lenders to bid on loans that are posted.

"This is a system that will be able to match up originators with funding sources. The idea is to have an electronic trading system," Mr. Korell said.

The software is currently being tested with an eye toward rolling it out this fall, he said.

Industry observers say lenders with access to such technology would gain a competitive edge.

"The mortgage industry is a very, very tough commodity-type business," said Larry E. Swedroe, former vice chairman of Prudential Home Mortgage. "The only way to make money is to find ways of differentiating yourself."

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