Figure, a 13-month-old, San Francisco-based company that says it uses blockchain technology to provide home equity loans online in as little as five days, has raised a whole lot of money in not a lot of time: $120 million to date, including $65 million in fresh funding from RPM Ventures and partners at DST Global, with participation from DCG, Nimble Ventures, Morgan Creek and earlier investors Ribbit Capital and DCM.
The money isn’t entirely surprising, given who founded the company — Mike Cagney, who founded SoFi and built it into a major player in student loan refinancing in the U.S. before leaving amid allegations of sexual harassment and an anything-goes corporate culture that saw at least two former employees sue the company.
Today, SoFi has moved on under the leadership of CEO Anthony Noto, a former Twitter executive who is working to reshape SoFi from a lending company into more of a full-fledged financial services company, with savings and checking accounts, as well as exchange-traded funds, all with the aim of making its platform stickier than in the past.
It may be a bigger endeavor than Noto had realized. Though Cagney once predicted the company would IPO in 2018 or 2019, SoFi isn’t even considering a public offering this year, Noto told reporters earlier this week.
Cagney has meanwhile moved on, too, though he still seems set on taking on traditional banks. Indeed, while Figure is providing home loans today — it says it has provided more than 1,500 home equity lines to date — it’s also moving to diversify into new areas, including wealth management, unsecured consumer loans and checking accounts offered (for now) in partnership with an existing bank.
Interestingly, Figure, which employs 100 people, is targeting a very different demographic than did SoFi, as Cagney told American Banker recently. Whereas SoFi marketed to young people earning high salaries, Figure is going after older customers who may not be seeing much in the way of income but have much of their wealth tied up in their homes instead.
Given that older Americans are projected to outnumber children for the first time in history by 2030, according to U.S. census data, Cagney clearly sees the writing on the wall.
Unsurprisingly, he’s not the only one. Other startups trying to make it easier for Americans to borrow against their homes include Point, a roughly four-year-old startup that lends capital to people and receives partial ownership in their homes in return. Irene, a two-year-old outfit based in New York, meanwhile says it will buy seniors’ homes, then let them live there for life.
Cagney co-founded Figure with his wife, June Ou, who is the company’s chief operating officer. She was previously chief technology officer at SoFi.
As for its culture and lingering questions that customers and potential partners may have about what happened at SoFi, Cagney — who has said he had consensual sexual relationships with female subordinates at SoFi — insists that Figure is benefiting from lessons learned.
At SoFi, he told American Banker, “[W]e grew so fast and we never really understood what we were going to grow into, and culture never took a front seat.” Figure meanwhile has a “very clear adherence to a no-asshole policy.”