Better employees are reportedly “leaving the company in droves” following the return of CEO Vishal Garg, who took a brief leave of absence in December after the company pushed back plans to take the $7 billion company public and Garg laid off 900 employees on a Zoom call that went viral.
The latest departures include three long-time senior executives – Sean Baddeley, Sarah Pierce, and Emanuel Santa-Donato – who posted farewells to their former Better colleagues on LinkedIn.
Baddeley, who during his 4 years at Better rose to senior director of partnerships, posted on LinkedIn that Monday was his last day at the company.
“After 49 months, 14 partnerships, 3 offices, 2 teams, and countless memories, today is my last day at Better,” Baddeley wrote. “To my former colleagues, partners, and clients; thank you for all that you’ve taught me and the fun we had along the way. I’ll continue to cheer you on, always.”
Baddeley said he’d “be in NYC for the foreseeable future, consulting/advising with early to growth stage startups (including True Link & Solve Finance!) while beginning work on some ideas of my own.”
According to her LinkedIn profile, Pierce – who represented Better on stage at Inman Connect Las Vegas last fall – was at Better for more than 5 ½ years, most recently as executive vice president of customer experience, sales and operations.
In a LinkedIn post, Pierce said Feb. 2 was her last day at Better, a mortgage lender that in many markets also seeks to provide end-to-end services, from real estate brokerage to title insurance.
“Throughout my time, I would always get asked ‘what keeps you at Better?’ ” Pierce wrote. “From my first day to my last, my answer never changed: the people. For 6 years, I got to work with some of the smartest and hardest working people I have ever met.”
Santa-Donato, a 6-year Better veteran whose last role was senior vice president of capital markets and growth, said in a LinkedIn post that he left the company at the end of January.
“For those still at Better, you have my full support even if [I am] cheering from the sidelines. Continue doing great things,” Santa-Donato wrote. “Focus on putting people in homes. Give people the opportunity to hand something down for generations.”
The departures of Baddeley, Pierce and Santa-Donato could represent the tip of the iceberg. Citing an anonymous former staffer, TechCrunch’s Mary Ann Azevedo reported on Jan. 30 that “top talent and hundreds from every department have fled in the wake of Zoomgate,” including “employees at every level – from loan officers to senior executives.”
In a Feb. 3 follow-up story, Azevedo broke the news of Pierce and Santa-Donato’s departures.
Citing unnamed sources “familiar with internal happenings at the company,” Azevedo reported that “Pierce in particular was trying to stand up for the hundreds of the employees who were laid off in December,” which created tension between her, Garg, and Better’s board of directors.
Better has not responded to Inman’s requests for comment about media reports of mass departures from the company, or the timetable for finalizing Better’s plans to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company. Inman has also sought comment from the departed executives.
Azevedo had reported in December that three key public relations and marketing executives – Patrick Lenihan, Tanya Gillogley, and Melanie Hahn – had departed Better after Garg’s Zoom call generated international attention.
According to their LinkedIn profiles Lenihann, Better’s former vice president of communications, is now head of communications at social networking app Grindr, while Hahn heads up marketing for withco, a commercial property ownership platform for small businesses.
The Dec. 1 layoffs, which Better said affected 9 percent of the company’s workforce, came one day after the company announced revisions to the terms under which it plans to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.
That deal, first announced in May 2021, was originally supposed to close by the end of last year. But the deadline for closing Better’s SPAC merger with Aurora Acquisition Corp. was extended to Sept. 30, 2022 by the revisions to the deal terms announced Nov. 30.
In announcing the new deal terms, Better said they “do not change the implied equity value for Better of approximately $6.9 billion,” and that Better, Aurora and financial backer SoftBank will continue to “work together toward public listing as soon as SEC registration and regulatory approvals are complete.”
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