Three more senior executives of digital mortgage lender Better.com have resigned, multiple sources tell TechCrunch.
Those three executives are: Jillian White, general manager of Better’s affiliate businesses known as Better+, which consists of its title/settlement, insurance and home inspection departments; Megan Bellingham, who was senior vice president of sales and operations and John Moffatt, who served as vice president of sales.
Moffatt confirmed his resignation but declined to comment further. White and Bellingham have not responded to requests for comment, and neither has Better.com itself.
All three executives had been at the company for at least six years, and their departures are yet another blow to the embattled startup, which has made headlines over the past several months – starting in December 2021 with one of several mass layoffs.
That first round of layoffs — which affected about 900 people — as well as subsequent workforce reductions, have led to a host of issues for the company. Those issues combined with a challenging macroenvironment, including higher mortgage interest rates and a slowed housing market, have resulted in Better.com delaying its SPAC indefinitely, plus a plethora of bad publicity and several other executive resignations.
TechCrunch in February reported that Sarah Pierce, who served as executive vice president of customer experience, sales and operations, and Emanuel Santa-Donato, who was senior vice president of capital markets and growth, were no longer with the digital mortgage company. Pierce had been with Better.com since August 2016, when she started as a “growth associate.” Santa-Donato joined the company in January 2016 as a “capital markets associate.”
Their departures followed those of three other executives who left the company in December in the wake of the layoffs: Patrick Lenihan, the company’s VP of communications; Tanya Gillogley, head of public relations; and Melanie Hahn, head of marketing.
The company’s CTO, Diane Yu, in April transitioned from her leadership role to an advisory position.
Earlier this month, Pierce filed a lawsuit against Better.com alleging that the company and its CEO Vishal Garg misled investors when it attempted to go public via a SPAC.
When Pierce parted ways with the company earlier this year, it was not clear if she left voluntarily or was asked to resign but Pierce indicated in her suit she was pushed out.
In her lawsuit, according to the Wall Street Journal, Pierce alleged that Better.com misrepresented its business and prospects so that it could move forward with a SPAC that would have given the company a post-money equity value of approximately $7.7 billion. The SPAC was delayed and has not yet taken place.
Better.com’s move to lay off about 900 employees via a Zoom video call on December 1, 2021, ended up going viral. It was hardly the first company to lay people off over Zoom during a global pandemic, but it was the manner in which it was handled that offended so many.
Co-founder Garg was universally criticized for being cold and unfeeling in his approach. He also added insult to injury days later by publicly accusing affected workers of “‘stealing’ from their colleagues and customers by being unproductive.”
On top of that, just one day before, CFO Kevin Ryan sent an email to employees saying that the company would have $1 billion on its balance sheet by the end of that week. In the weeks following the layoffs, Garg “apologized” and took a monthlong “break.” Meanwhile, employees detailed how he “led by fear,” and a number of senior executives and two board members resigned.
Then, on March 8, the company laid off an estimated 3,000 of its remaining 8,000 employees in the U.S. and India and “accidentally rolled out the severance pay slips too early.”
In April, a filing revealed that Better.com swung to a loss of more than $300 million last year, a sharp turnaround from its profitable 2020. Garg is also the target of multiple lawsuits by PIMCO, Goldman Sachs and other investors involving entities he controlled.
In recent months, numerous parties have reached out to TechCrunch, including customers who say they lost money when the company botched their house closing; former employees who say they have not been awarded stock options that were owed to them; and still other former employees who say they can’t collect unemployment because Better reportedly did not pay the appropriate taxes.