Banking

Better.com’s CPO accused of bullying days SoftBank investment

Better.com, a digital mortgage lender based out New York, has placed its chief product officer (CPO) Elana Knoller on administrative leave following allegations of bullying, Forbes reports.

Knoller, whose pay and benefits will for the moment remain intact, has been accused of presiding over “a culture of intimidation and retaliation”.

Knoller, 29, joined Better in 2017 from Goldman Sachs

Better.com employees told Forbes that Knoller promoted workers based on loyalty. They also allege individuals who challenged her leadership were placed on performance improvement plans.

Half a billion investment

These accusations and the temporary exit of Knoller comes just days after Japanese conglomerate SoftBank invested $500 million in the commission-free lender.

First reported by The Wall Street Journal, Better.com’s capital injection puts the fintech at a valuation of $6 billion, up from a $4 billion valuation in November, when it raised a $200 million Series D.

Better.com operates on a Californian licence for its core home lending product. It also partners with the likes of Ally Bank.

The fintech claims to pre-approve users in just 3 minutes. Pre-pandemic, it processed $1.2 billion in loans each month. By October, that figure had climbed to $2.5 billion. This meant total funding of loans for 2020 landed on an eye-watering $25 billion.

This year, Better.com’s growth is keeping up a similar momentum. In the first quarter of 2021, it says it funded $14 billion in loan volumes.

“Dumb dolphins”

In response to allegations of bullying directed at its CPO, an independent spokesperson for Knoller said “it is not a surprise some disgruntled employees have sought to undermine this talented female”.

Knoller, 29, joined Better in 2017 from Goldman Sachs, becoming CPO in February 2020.

Her spokesperson dubs social media app Blind, where Better.com’s employees recorded their anonymous accusations of bullying, a space for “griping and chatter”.

A spokesperson for Better.com told Forbes: “We do not comment on employee matters.”

Previous reports by Forbes found Better.com’s CEO, Vishal Garg, likened his employees to “a bunch of dumb dolphins” in an email.

Investors seem to have dropped concerns they may have once held around Better.com’s CEO. Goldman Sachs, a three-time investor in Better.com, spent two years accusing entities controlled by Garg of “flagrant self-dealing” before dropping the case last October.

Read next: UK fintech Freetrade hit by claims of toxic workplace culture


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