Fintech Roundup Better.Com Workers leaving in ‘Droves’ in Wake of CEO Vishal Garg’s Return

Fintech Roundup Better.Com Workers leaving in ‘Droves’ in Wake of CEO Vishal Garg’s Return

Hello and welcome to my new weekly fintech column. It is an exciting time to be a journalist covering financial technology. Aside from the fact that fintech firms received over 20% of all venture capital dollars last year, I am enthusiastic about the many ways that this technology is helping to increase inclusivity all across the world. While this pandemic has been terrible on many levels, one positive outcome is that consumers and businesses have driven more fintech to emerge, which is a good thing. I’ll be posting this every Sunday, but in the meantime, listen to Alex Wilhelm, Natasha Mascarenhas, and I riff on all things startups on the Equity podcast!

Over the last few months, there has been plenty of drama at online mortgage lender, and it looks that just because controversial CEO Vishal Garg has returned to the helm, there is still plenty of controversy surrounding the company. Axios’ Dan Primack reported earlier this week that SoftBank pledged to give Garg the 1.9 percent voting rights connected to its original investment “contingent on the final settlement of certain legal actions (which has not yet occurred)” in “its apparent desire to back the company.”

For those who have not been following this story, Garg has gotten a lot of dissension for his callous dismissal of 900 employees over Zoom, as well as his berating of his own investors via email and accusations of staff being “lazy” and “stupid dolphins.” We have all been wondering how this man is still in charge, and SoftBank’s conditions may provide an explanation. Meanwhile, a former employee tells me that Better employees are furious that Garg has returned, and that they are departing in droves. Employees at all levels, from loan officers to top executives, are said to be affected (some of whom are believed to be leaving potentially millions of dollars in equity on the table). “It’s an astounding fall from grace,” the employee said. In the aftermath of Zoomgate, it’s hardly a leap to suggest that the top talent and hundreds of employees from every area have left.”

That is not all, though. Now that Garg has returned, he appears to be anxious about information being leaked to the public, and he and the other executives “have put everything on lockdown,” according to one employee. Engineering managers, for example, alleged to have held an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Garg, with only in-person employees allowed to attend. Employees were had to sign NDAs and deposit their phones in paper bags, and metal detectors used to ensure that no recording devices were there. Additionally, the company has apparently stopped internal Google document sharing and blocked access to all companywide dashboards — most likely due to a significant drop in sales. “As the staff phrased it,” he said.

There is no way to see what is going on. Vishal has no faith in anyone. Let us now discuss payments. According to this article, which cites Bloomberg, small companies may soon be able to accept payments using their iPhones without the need for additional technology. If this is accurate, Apple might see as a competitor to Square in the contactless payments industry. All of this piqued my interest since, back in October, I reported about a business called MagicCube, which financed by Visa and developing technology that will affect Android users.