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Top executives at tech-based mortgage lender Better including co-founder and CEO Vishal Garg are in line to receive up to $17 million in transaction bonuses in the wake of Better’s Aug. 24 SPAC merger, which netted the company more than $500 million in funding but was soon followed by layoffs.

Executives who stand to receive bonuses include Garg ($9.7 million), Chief Financial Officer and President Kevin Ryan ($2.95 million), General Counsel Paula Tuffin ($200,000), and Chief Administrative Officer Nicholas Calamari ($120,000), according to a Sept. 29 regulatory filing.

Half of the bonuses are payable within 15 days of the executives signing a “DeSPAC Transaction Bonus Agreement,” with the other half payable only if Better achieves two consecutive quarters of positive operating cash flow.

Shares in Better lost more than 90 percent of their value in their Nasdaq debut following the closing of the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger, and the company reportedly laid off one-quarter of its U.S. mortgage sales and origination team just two weeks later.

The New York-based lender had previously cut more than 9,000 jobs in the lead-up to its Aug. 24 SPAC merger, with the company’s payroll falling from a peak of 10,400 workers in the fourth quarter of 2021 to a total of 950 team members as of June 8.

Before the merger closed, Better employees told Inman that they feared they would never see $100 million in retention bonuses they said they’d been promised in March 2022. After the payout date for the bonuses had come and gone, Better told Inman in April 2023 that the company remained committed to distributing the equity-based bonuses.

In a statement provided to Inman Tuesday, a spokesperson for Better said “the $100 million in retention bonuses were distributed to employees in April 2023,” including $50 million from Garg’s personal equity.

Shares in Better Home & Finance Holding Company, as the company is known following its SPAC merger, have traded for less than $1 since Aug. 29, and touched an all-time low of 42.66 cents on Tuesday.

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Email Matt Carter

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