loses more top execs in wake of Vishal Garg’s return as CEO

The exodus of executives at continues.

TechCrunch has learned 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, are no longer with the digital mortgage company.

The circumstances around their departures at this time remain unclear. But sources familiar with internal happenings at the company say that Pierce in particular was trying to stand up for the hundreds of the employees who were laid off in December and that caused “a lot of tension” between her and CEO Vishal Garg and the board. Pierce was reportedly upset with the way Garg publicly disparaged the employees, the majority of whom had reported to her, after callously laying them off via Zoom.

Pierce and Santa-Donato have not responded to requests for comment, and neither has

Their departures follow 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. Pierce had been with since August 2016, when she started as a “growth associate.” Santa-Donato joined the company in January 2016 as a “capital markets associate.”

On LinkedIn, Pierce addressed her departure, writing: 

Throughout my time, I would always get asked “what keeps you at Better?” 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. 

To my colleagues at Better, I will miss you. And to the people who have left Better — it has been so inspiring to see the unbelievable steps you are taking in your careers and amazing companies you are joining.

Their departures also follow the recent resignations of two board members, Raj Date and Dinesh Chropra, according to an internal email obtained by TechCrunch that went out on January 18. In that email, the board said only: “While we do not comment on individuals’ determinations to leave the board, Raj and Dinish did not resign because of any disagreement with Better. We very much thank Raj and Dinesh for all of their significant contributions to the Better Board.”

Earlier this week, we reported that employees were reportedly leaving the company in “droves” after Garg returned to his role as CEO after a month-long break. 

The loss of Pierce as a top executive could further damage morale among remaining workers, with a current employee, who wished to remain anonymous, noting that Pierce was generally well-regarded at 

That employee said: “Sarah was one of the most, if not the most, beloved employee at Better over the last six years. She is single handedly responsible for most of our growth and success.”

The departures come after multiple reports that Garg led the company he co-founded in 2014 with a “culture of fear.

Employees anonymously have shared horrifying details with TechCrunch, such as Garg spewing violent threats against workers, saying things like he’d “taser” people or “choke throats,” although he is not known to have actually hurt anyone physically.

The fact that Garg remains CEO of the company after all the negative publicity and multiple lawsuits against him has left some of us scratching our heads. Surely, the company has lost business as a result of the hit to its reputation, and it’s going to be interesting to see if it in fact still goes public as planned or if it will crash and burn.

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