Startups

Better.com CEO Vishal Garg says he is ‘personally liable’ for $750M SoftBank investment

Comment

Better.com's vishal garg
Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Better.com CEO Vishal Garg has acknowledged to employees that he “personally guaranteed”  $750 million in post-closing convertible notes that would be provided to the online mortgage lender should it still go public under the original SPAC agreement, according to an email seen by TechCrunch.

Let’s start at the beginning. Last May, Better.com announced that it was going public via a SPAC that would value the company at nearly $7 billion. Then on November 30, the company announced that blank-check company Aurora Acquisition Corp. and SoftBank decided to amend the terms of their financing agreement to provide Better with half of the $1.5 billion they committed immediately instead of waiting until the deal closes.

But what wasn’t revealed at that time, as Fortune reported last week, when SoftBank ponied up $750 million in November, it was Garg — not the company as a whole — who assumed responsibility for compensating the Japanese investment conglomerate for any losses in connection with the remaining $750 million that was to be paid out in post-closing convertible notes should the deal actually close. You see, when Better announced it was going public via a SPAC last May, SoftBank had put together a $1.5 billion private investment in the deal’s public equity, or PIPE, in effect repricing its own preceding investment. It paid out $750 million last year, but when it came to the post-closing convertible notes.

Specifically, an S-4 filing by Aurora states:

The Better Founder and CEO, in his personal capacity, has agreed to enter into a side letter with SoftBank, pursuant to which he may be liable for realized losses or receive payments in certain circumstances from SoftBank in connection with the Post-Closing Convertible Notes, which could divert the resources and attention of the Better Founder and CEO from our business and have a negative impact on his personal financial situation.

Notably, the amount of losses covered by the side letter is uncapped, and Garg alone “remains responsible for all such losses, which could require him to, among other things, sell a significant portion of his holdings in Better Home & Finance common stock, which could negatively impact the trading price of Better Home & Finance common stock.”

As mentioned above, in response to details of the arrangement being made public, Garg sent an email — viewed by TechCrunch — to all current Better employees, acknowledging personal responsibility for the  remainder of the $1.5 billion private investment that was committed to by SoftBank last year In the email, he admitted that he “personally guaranteed” SoftBank $750 million of the $1.5 billion that SoftBank had agreed to invest in the company of last year because he “wanted the capital to build our dream,” knowing “the world was about to get ugly.”

I might be foolish, but I believe in us. I believe in you. I believe in our mission. I believe in our vision. And I believe that we are the only people on this planet who will do everything needed to make homeownership better, faster, cheaper, and make it possible for everyone everywhere…. I am fully committed with everything I own and will ever own….Five years from now, when that SoftBank $750 million loan comes due around my 50th birthday….if it means I have nothing. Well, at least we will have given it a real shot…This is true. I did personally guarantee three quarters of a billion dollars and I’m personally liable for it.

Meanwhile, multiple sources also have shared that Better.com in recent weeks offered its workers in India the option to leave under a voluntary separation agreement. Apparently, more workers put their hands up — a reported 90% of 2,100 — than the company expected and it had to put a cap on how many workers could leave.

Sources said it was mostly “closers and analysts” who were allowed to leave, and about 920 workers total had their resignations accepted. One individual shared an email from HR India turning down their request saying that the worker was “part of a mission-critical team” at Better. A separate email that went to the company’s operations team outlining a structural reorganization said the need to offer voluntary separation to the company’s India employees was due to recognition that “there are declines ahead and responding to these to ensure Better is positioned for profitability remains essential.”

Better did not respond to requests for comment.

This article was updated post-publication to provide additional clarity on Garg’s agreement with SoftBank.

My weekly fintech newsletter, The Interchange, launched on May 1! Sign up here to get it in your inbox.

The half-billion-dollar profit swing that led to Better.com’s myriad layoffs

More TechCrunch

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

13 hours ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

15 hours ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, launched an enterprise version of the prominent social network in 2015. It always seemed like a stretch for a company built on a consumer…

With the end of Workplace, it’s fair to wonder if Meta was ever serious about the enterprise

X, formerly Twitter, turned TweetDeck into X Pro and pushed it behind a paywall. But there is a new column-based social media tool in town, and it’s from Instagram Threads.…

Meta Threads is testing pinned columns on the web, similar to the old TweetDeck

As part of 2024’s Accessibility Awareness Day, Google is showing off some updates to Android that should be useful to folks with mobility or vision impairments. Project Gameface allows gamers…

Google expands hands-free and eyes-free interfaces on Android