February 7, 2023

BANKRUPT VALUES: “Anti-Woke” bank goes broke leaving GOP donors bereft

BANKRUPT VALUES: "Anti-Woke" bank goes broke leaving GOP donors bereft

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After debuting in September, the absurd “anti-Woke” bank GloriFi — founded by businessman Toby Neugebauer and former Mike Pence chief of staff Nick Ayers — has been canceled.

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The Texas-based company blew through investment money – leading to layoffs, infighting, and legal issues.

Accusations that Neugebauer drank on the job complicated bank operations with the founder’s 16,000-square-foot home serving as GloriFi’s home base.

Funded in part by Trump-backed former U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and billionaire far-right Republican operative, Peter Thiel, GloriFi raised nearly $50 million in 2021 for its launch.

According to The Wall Street Journal, GloriFi aimed to be a full-service banking institution – offering bank accounts, credit cards, home loans, and insurance services, marketing themselves as a “patriotic” company promoting pro-American values like capitalism, supporting law enforcement and the celebration of “your love of God and country.”

Within months, the investors’ money was nearly gone, and GloriFi was on the verge of bankruptcy. It missed launch dates, blaming faulty technology and failures by vendors, and laid off dozens of employees.

After months of mishaps and chaos, some investors – including Ayers – unsuccessfully tried to oust the bank’s leader.

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Neugebauer denies he was asked to resign. “Our 84 co-founders and our great partners stick by our accomplishments,” he told the Journal.

Of the criticism of his alleged drinking, he said, “The attacks on what I do in my home after 5 p.m. are beneath” The Wall Street Journal.

The company had lofty goals of being a conservative banking haven for those unhappy with “woke” Wall Street banking, even offering a homeowners insurance discount for gun owners.

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But growing pains would soon hit the start-up – expanding to over 100 employees – and spending millions on attorneys, consultants and vendors in attempts to meet the then-scheduled April 1st launch.

For a time, it was all conservative hands on deck. GloriFi hired right-wing pundit Candace Owens as the public face of the bank, airing a promotional video at August’s Conservative Political Action Conference.

When asked about her involvement with the financial services newbie, Owens told the Journal in an email, “I very much believe in GloriFi and view it to be the first true mark of what I perceive to be a competitive, conservative economy that is forming.

The son of a former congressman, Neugebauer is politically connected in the world of Texas Republican politics. The private equity firm owner reportedly donated $10 million to a super PAC that supported Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’s 2016 run for president.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) has been a guest at Mr. Neugebauer’s Dallas mansion, and even former Vice President Mike Pence appeared on a staff call.

GloriFi’s chief marketing and communications officer, Cathy Landtroop, alerted staff that the company would be closing its doors via email on Friday, citing “financial challenges related to startup mistakes, the failing economy, reputational attacks, and multiple negative stories took their toll, forcing the Texas-based company to lay off a majority of its staff.

Rapid growth, unrealistic goals, mismanagement, and financial frivolity appear to have been GloriFi’s downfall.

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Perhaps throwing tens of millions of dollars at two banking entrepreneurs with no actual banking experience wasn’t the best idea.

While apple pie and American flags may be great for a Trumper selling MAGA merch, credit cards made of bullet material, abusive vendors, and drunk CEOs apparently weren’t the selling point they thought.

Original reporting by Rachel Louise Ensign, Peter Rudgeair, and AnnaMaria Andriotis at The Wall Street Journal.

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

 

Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.

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