Struggling digital mortgage lender Better.com reveals slew of new senior executive hires in bid for ‘revival’ – TechCrunch
Online mortgage lender Better.com is on a mission to reinvent its image.
The struggling startup today announced several new senior executive hires, including a new chief growth officer and a new chief sales officer.
In case you missed it, Better.com has seen a wave of executives leave the company in recent months as it laid off thousands of workers through multiple rounds of layoffs.
Now the New York-based startup says it has named Sushil Sharma as the first Chief Growth Officer. Sharma previously served as chief product officer at LendingTree and Match, where he helped that company go public and lead product, marketing analytics, CRM and revenue.
Steve Riddell has been named the company’s new director of sales. He has three decades of executive sales experience at companies such as Casper, Sprint and Blinds.com, which was acquired by Home Depot.
“In just six years, Better has created nearly $100 billion in mortgages,” Vishal Garg, CEO and Founder of Better, said in a press release. “Expanding our team with seasoned professionals who are always fast, hungry and enthusiastic will be essential to achieve our next phase of growth.”
In addition to Sharma and Riddell, Better has also named Ryan Jewison to lead Better Cover, the company’s digital insurance arm. He previously worked at US Bank, Doma and Elavon. Nick Taylor has been named head of Better Real Estate and previously worked at Zillow in sales and strategy and at Modus. Josh Durodola has been named head of Better Services after serving as the company’s director of strategy and operations. Brian Ro was named vice president of people after leading total rewards and compensation strategy at Deloitte, Zeigler, Ripple, Chekr and Gopuff.
Jennifer Malin has been named head of enterprise risk and was previously a partner at global law firm Winston & Strawn. And Nitin Bhutani has been named head of marketing, having previously worked at HSBC, LendingTree and JG Wentworth.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Ro told me he joined the company in May and was encouraged that the company had “talented people who want to be here and be part of the renaissance.” .
“And frankly, that’s also why I joined the company,” he added. “I believe in the mission, that the process of buying a home should be faster, easier and cheaper. Better is still the number one online mortgage provider in the country, so they are a leader in what ‘they do.
Better was to go public last year through a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) that would have valued the company at more than $7 billion. In recent months, the company’s reputation and operations have suffered from a plethora of bad publicity and deteriorating market conditions, including a slower housing market and higher mortgage interest rates. Better’s handling of its first round of layoffs, as well as subsequent downsizing, also brought a host of problems for the company.
In June, we reported that the company had lost three senior executives, including the senior vice president and vice president of sales. The company’s CTO, Diane Yu, in April transitioned from a leadership role to an advisory role.
In February, TechCrunch reported that Sarah Pierce, who served as executive vice president of customer experience, sales and operations, and Emanuel Santa-Donato, who served as senior vice president of capital markets and growth, were no longer part of the digital mortgage company. Their departures followed those of three other executives who left the company last December following the layoffs: Patrick Lenihan, vice president of corporate communications; Tanya Gillogley, Public Relations Manager; and Melanie Hahn, Head of Marketing.
In June, Pierce filed a lawsuit against Better.com, alleging the company and CEO Garg misled investors when they attempted to go public through a SPAC.
When Pierce parted ways with the company earlier this year, it was unclear whether she left voluntarily or was asked to quit, but Pierce said in her complaint that she was kicked out.
In his lawsuit, according to the Wall Street Journal, Pierce alleged that Better.com misrepresented its business and outlook so it could move forward with its SPAC. Since that lawsuit, several employees have expressed resentment towards Pierce for “receiving a large salary” while many employees have been left behind.
Better.com’s decision to lay off around 900 employees via a Zoom video call on December 1, 2021 ended up going viral. It wasn’t the first company to lay off people on Zoom during a global pandemic, but it was the way it was handled that offended so many. Co-founder Garg has been universally criticized for being cold and insensitive in his approach. He also added insult to injury a few days later by publicly accusing the workers concerned of “‘stealing’ their colleagues and customers by being unproductive”.
Then, on March 8, the company laid off about 3,000 of its remaining 8,000 employees in the United States and India and “accidentally rolled out severance pay slips too soon.”
In April, a filing revealed that Better.com suffered a loss of more than $300 million last year, a sharp turnaround from its profitable 2020 year. Garg is also the target of multiple lawsuits by PIMCO and other investors involving entities he controlled.
Additionally, in April, a video of Garg and CFO Kevin Ryan addressing remaining employees right after the CEO made those layoffs emerged, confirming numerous reports of his brash style and harsh words at the regard to the persons concerned.
In this video, obtained by TechCrunch, Garg was seen addressing the layoffs and admitting to making a number of mistakes, including not being disciplined in the company’s cash management and hiring strategy. .
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