All the best stories in the genre of Feuding Rich Idiots unfold along Coen Bros. story beats. This one absolutely does, right down to the heated confrontation at a Dallas-area PF Chang's. https://t.co/eKlWu9eDkt
— David Roth (@david_j_roth) October 10, 2022
One problem with being ADHD is that normal people tend to trust & follow you even when you don’t actually know what you’re doing. There’s a just-so-story, within the community, that the reason neurodivergent genes remain stubbornly present in the wider population is because sometimes a prototypical band of humans just needs a preternaturally confident idiot. When the reindeer herds fail to follow the usual migration path, or the staple root crops fail, ADHD Person announces, I have had a vision — we all need to shift to hunting / collecting over *there*!…
Of course, quite often the new, ‘visionary’ path doesn’t work out, either; there are no more reindeer, or possibly the community already established along the new path takes fatal exception to intruders. But we are, as the offspring of survivors, either ADHD ourselves… or else the descendents of people inclined to trust the preternaturally confident. People like Toby Neugebauer. Glori-Fried!
An A-list group of financial backers including Ken Griffin and Peter Thiel gave Toby Neugebauer tens of millions of dollars to build a new kind of bank—one aimed at people who see Wall Street as too liberal.
The potential customer base was huge, Mr. Neugebauer and his business partner, former Mike Pence chief of staff Nick Ayers, told the investors. Plumbers, electricians and police officers, the pitch went, are fed up with big banks that don’t share their values.
The startup, called GloriFi, initially aimed to launch with bank accounts, credit cards, mortgages and insurance, while touting what it called pro-America values such as capitalism, family, law enforcement and the freedom to “celebrate 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. It stumbled with products; for instance, a plan to make a credit card out of the same material used for shell casings failed when the company realized the material could interfere with security chips and potentially be too thick for payment terminals, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Neugebauer said no investors asked him to resign, saying he had “nothing but support.” 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.
“Our 84 co-founders and our great partners stick by our accomplishments,” Mr. Neugebauer said.
GloriFi’s app did make its debut in September. The company said customers can open checking and savings accounts and apply for credit cards. It said it is continuing to work on plans to offer mortgages, brokerage accounts and insurance, and is focused on optimizing shareholder value.
Earlier, in an August interview, Mr. Neugebauer said he remains convinced that GloriFi is the right idea for the right time.
He said he had put $10 million of his own private-equity fortune into the company to keep it afloat this spring. He is planning to take the company public through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company, which requires him to raise at least $60 million in additional cash. The pending deal has several conditions GloriFi and the SPAC have yet to meet…
Mr. Neugebauer said many Americans have come to believe big banks have moved too far left, and that customers want a bank that reflects their conservative values. “It is about my friends that played football at ‘Friday Night Lights.’ And they don’t feel loved. They don’t feel respected,” he said…
GloriFi said its customers can earn rewards that they will soon be able to donate to a charity for veterans and first-responders. A homeowners insurance policy that gives discounts to gun owners is in planning stages, the company said. Its website, adorned with flags, blue-collar workers and families, urges customers to “put your money where your values are.”
But before GloriFi’s vision of a conservative banking network could be tested in the marketplace, management missteps and tensions with its investors stalled the company’s rollout…
The mission appealed to Mr. Thiel’s Founders Fund, which focuses on investing in transformational companies such as SpaceX. Other investors included Mr. Griffin, the founder and chief executive of hedge fund Citadel; Joe Lonsdale, co-founder of data-mining company Palantir Technologies Inc.; former Georgia Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler; and Atlanta healthcare entrepreneur Rick Jackson. GloriFi raised about $50 million…
Hard to imagine a bunch of ‘investors’ more deserving of being gulled by a fellow grifter, under the rubric Let’s just do it, and be legends!
… GloriFi’s political connections were apparent. Mr. Pence made a supportive appearance on an all-staff call. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott visited Mr. Neugebauer’s home. Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz shared a video sponsored by GloriFi on the Fourth of July on Twitter. Mr. Neugebauer, who says he is a libertarian, donated $10 million to a super PAC backing Mr. Cruz’s 2016 presidential bid.
Mr. Neugebauer’s 16,000-square-foot Dallas home, modeled after the White House, became the company’s initial headquarters. Desks dotted the property’s palatial common areas. Employees who didn’t live in Dallas would often stay in guest bedrooms, where they could sometimes hear Mr. Neugebauer pacing the halls during his 17-hour workdays, according to former employees…
Some employees said they found the experience of building a company from scratch thrilling. Mr. Neugebauer, these employees said, was a hard-charging, charismatic founder, not unlike the ones behind the startups that dominate today’s tech world. “He’s got this vision…It’s almost like drinking really good Kool-Aid,” Manny Rios, then head of GloriFi’s insurance operations, said in an internal video filmed in April. “I count Toby as Steve Jobs 2.0.”
But staffers began complaining about what they said were Mr. Neugebauer’s volatile behavior and drinking habits, according to people familiar with the matter and a memo from Britt Amos, GloriFi’s former head of human resources, reviewed by the Journal. Ms. Amos left in the spring after clashing with Mr. Neugebauer, and she recounted issues she saw as problems in the memo.
“Several people working at the mansion told me to make sure I leave around six,” Ms. Amos wrote in the memo. “When I inquired why, they stated that after 5 p.m. Toby starts drinking and things at the house deteriorate quickly.” …
On a call with investors in September, Mr. Neugebauer suggested the company might accelerate a plan already in the works to offer financial services to Latinos. Mr. Neugebauer expressed the idea that people were trying to hurt GloriFi, and his wife read a Bible passage about adversity.
In the August interview, Mr. Neugebauer spoke of the company with emotion, his blue eyes filling with tears. “This is a child of mine that I’m so proud of that I can hardly stand it,” he said.
Just an all-star cast of amazing humanoid beings, every one…
Sometimes I pity these conservative grifters who are clearly in a precarious position & embrace the grift accordingly. Then I remember that Costco's hiring seasonal employees right now & there's nothing stopping these people from making an honest dollar https://t.co/YkfSY2FPpp
— chatham harrison is tending his garden (@chathamharrison) October 9, 2022
Perfect coda — remember this creepy dude? (sad trombone noise):
I can’t say I know Toby Neugebauer well, but I did blast this bad boy on his ranch in 2014!
— Jason Miller (@JasonMillerinDC) October 11, 2022