Less than three months after its public debut, the “anti-woke” banking startup GloriFi is canceling itself.
The company has laid off employees and informed them the end is nigh, via an email from Chief Marketing Officer Cathy Landtrop obtained by the Wall Street Journal. Landroop cited “financial challenges related to startup mistakes, the failing economy, reputational attacks, and multiple negative stories,” as reasons for the downfall.
The Journal reports the company’s fate was sealed Friday when a funding arrangement fell through.
Pitching itself as a financial institution that allowed one to be “free to celebrate your love of God and country without fear of cancellation,” GloriFi’s marketing read more like a campaign ad than an enticing APR offer on a new credit card. Highlights from the “about us” page include: “OUR BILL OF RIGHTS IS NON-NEGOTIABLE” and “WE ARE ONE NATION UNDER GOD.”
In its short tenure, GloriFi managed to launch checking and savings accounts as well as credit cards, with plans to offer mortgages and insurance in a future that will no longer take place. Founder and CEO Toby Neugebauer pitched plans to offer gun owners discounts on home insurance, credit cards made of shell casing material, and assistance paying legal bills if customers shot someone in self-defense. Over the summer, GloriFi secured conservative commentator Candace Owens as a co-founder and spokesperson for the brand.
In October, the: Wall Street Journal detailed the tumultuous beginning of the startup that led to its swift collapse. Neugebauer and business partner Nick Ayers, former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, managed to secure an imposing roster of financial backers for their Texas-based company. Enticing investors like conservative billionaire Peter Thiel, former Georgia Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Citadel founder Ken Griffin with promises of a market chalk full of “plumbers, electricians and police officers,” who “are fed up with big banks that don’t share their values.”
But GloriFi was unable to translate ideological grandstanding into functional corporate management. Even before its public launch, the startup was plagued by reports of chaos among staff and financiers. GloriFi missed its planned launch date several times, at one point due to clashes with Texas financial regulators. Reports emerged of unpaid invoices and erratic behavior from Neugebauer, who had converted his home Dallas mansion into the company’s main office.
According to the Journal, the company was eventually forced to hire a law firm to investigate workplace issues, particularly around Neugebauer. In one memo reviewed by the Journal:, GloriFi’s former Head of Human Resources Britt Amos described several employees at Neugebaur’s mansion telling him to “make sure I leave around six,” and explaining that “after 5 pm Toby starts drinking and things at the house deteriorate quickly.” Amos also described a meeting where a visibly drunk Neugebauer was “drinking Red Bull and putting alcohol in it.”