Peter Thiel-backed “anti-woke” fintech startup GloriFi shuts down
GloriFi’s failure is proof of that ethos does not replace business acumen.
The “anti-woke” fintech startup backed by Peter Thiel was meant to provide conservative customers who had grown tired of what they perceived as Wall Street liberal operation an option for opening accounts, getting credit and debit cards, and finally insurance and mortgages. But it was a bag of blunders from the start. Poor leadership and a struggle to raise funds have cut the lifeline incredibly short – just two months after its launch in September.
The startup, which promoted what it considered to be “pro-American” values such as capitalism, family, law enforcement and the freedom to “celebrate your love for God and country,” is winding down because it “experienced a number of financial challenges related to startup failures, reputational attacks, the declining economy and more negative media stories.” says the website. (This is exactly the language used by Cathy Landtroop, the company’s marketing and communications manager, in an email to employees seen by The Wall Street Journalwho first broke the news.)
After failing to secure funding to get through the first quarter of 2023, GloriFi has laid off most of its employees and begun helping customers resolve their accounts.
At the time of reporting, GloriFi’s was Twitter, Instagramand LinkedIn the accounts were gone.
A brief timeline of GloriFi’s crumbling
July 25: GloriFi agrees to go public via special purpose vehicle acquisition company (SPAC) deal, valuing right-wing fintech firm at $1.7 billion
September 20: GloriFi, the banking fintech app provided by Texas-based TransPecos Banks, debuts on the Apple App Store
October 10: A wall Sthree Journal the article explains GloriFi’s problems, including launch delays due to regulatory hiccups, mass layoffs, botched technology flaws, and how the company burned through investor money so quickly that it ended up on the brink of bankruptcy. Details include founder-CEO Toby Neugebauer’s 16,000-square-foot Dallas home that doubles as GloriFi’s office, with employees exposed to his volatile behavior and excessive drinking; an impractical plan to make credit cards out of shell casings, which would interfere with security chips and potentially be too thick for payment terminals; and a potential homeowners policy that would provide discounts to gun owners
October 17: Neugebauer steps down as CEO after WSJ exposé
November 21: GloriFi announces that it is discontinuing operations
Person of interest: Peter Thiel
Toby Neugebauer and wife Melissa started working at GloriFi in late 2021 and ended up amassing 84 supporters, including Mike Pence’s former chief of staff Nick Ayers and controversial conservative commentator Candace Owens.
In the first few months, Neugebauer put in $10,000 of his own, and withdrew tens of millions of dollars from major investors such as hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin and Peter Thiel, who co-founded PayPal with Elon Musk.
Thiel, one of Facebook’s first investors and former partner at incubator Y Combinator, is an unsurprising entry on this list, given that he is known for spending his money on causes that promote his conservative beliefs.
🗳 Policy: Thiel was one of them biggest donors to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and he endorsed Ohio Senate seat race for JD Vance, who likened abortion to slavery.
📱Apps: Thiel’s most popular conservative app investment is in the first alt-right social media platform to go public, Rumble.
A lesser-known investment, Thiel pumped in 1.5 million dollars into an invite-only, right-wing dating app — called The Right Stuff — if ads featured women seeks “alpha males” and calls being a Democrat a “red flag”. Can not attract women to its platform, a slow registration processand glitchy and slow tech, were among the more predictable issues for the app where conspiracy theorists reported theirs fluorophobia. Some users claimed in the app reviews that they were contacted by the FBI who responded a profile request about the Capitol Hill uprising on Jan. 6, but the app dismissed the reports like trolling.
Don’t mix the two: GloriFi vs Glorify
While GloriFi flourishes Glorify.
The Christian worship and meditation app was founded in the United Kingdom in 2020. In December 2020, it raised $40 million in funding from Japan’s SoftBank, California-based VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, and reality TV star Kris Jenner. In the next round will HeadSpace for Christians got singers Michael Buble and Jason Derulo on board as investors. According to the Google Play Store, it has been downloaded above 5 million times.
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