Former SoFi CEO Mike Cagney founds new lending startup, pivots to blockchain

Figure will specialize in home equity lending

After abruptly resigning from SoFi amid a swirling controversy about the workplace culture at the online lender, Mike Cagney has resurfaced…and he’s pivoting to blockchain.

Cagney co-founded SoFi and served as its CEO before resigning last year after reports emerged about the alleged toxic culture at SoFi, with a lot of news coverage placing Cagney at the center of the issues. 

Now, after a few months out of the spotlight, Cagney is ready to plot his next move.

Cagney helped found a new lending startup called Figure, which will apparently be specializing in home equity lending with blockchain serving as a key component of the company’s business plan.

Details on the company and its plans are scarce at this point, but the company does have a website and is looking for new employees.

This is how the company describes itself on both its website, as well as on its LinkedIn page:

Figure is a financial technology company with the mission of leveraging blockchain, AI and advanced analytics to unlock new access points for consumer credit products that can transform the financial lives of our customers. We provide home equity release solutions, including home equity lines of credit, home improvement loans and home buy-lease back offerings for retirement. Concurrently, we are building a blockchain protocol for the origination, custody, trading and securitization of whole loans and other assets.

The company’s LinkedIn page lists more than a dozen employees at Figure so far, including June Ou, who served as SoFi’s chief technology officer and is Cagney’s wife.

The company is also looking to hire 12 more employees, including a lead data scientist, senior data engineer, chief compliance officer, director of compliance, controller, vice president of brand marketing, and manager of product strategy.

Figure doesn’t appear to be lending or facilitating loans yet. The company’s website asks visitors to provide an email address so they can be the “first to know when we launch.”

Cagney suffered a quick fall from grace at SoFi.

Over the last few years, SoFi transitioned from specializing in student loans into becoming one of the largest online residential mortgage retailers.

In 2016, SoFi shook up the mortgage business when it announced a partnership with Fannie Mae, which included a new loan option that allows homeowners to refinance their mortgage at a lower rate and pay down the balance of an existing student loan.

Last year, SoFi announced its intentions to break into banking by applying for a bank charter under the name SoFi Bank in Utah.

That move was met by resistance from other banks and members of Congress, but the plan was abandoned after Cagney stepped down.

SoFi was previously the apple of investors’ eyes, including, raising $500 million last year in its Series F financing led by Silver Lake. That capital raise came roughly 18 months after SoFi raised $1 billion, led by SoftBank. At the time, the capital raise was the largest single financing round in the fintech space to date.

The shine faded fast though after the allegations of how SoFi actually operated came to light, including claims that it fired a former employee for reporting sexual harassment allegations to his superiors.

Cagney later responded to those claims, saying in an email to all of SoFi’s employees that the company does not tolerate this type of behavior and is conducting an investigation into the allegations.

“To be blunt, that kind of behavior has no place at SoFi, and we’re not going to tolerate it,” Cagney said in his email. “These allegations are being thoroughly investigated by outside attorneys we have engaged. To the extent we determine that there is any truth to the allegations, swift and severe action will be taken.”

Just one week after Cagney sent that email, the company announced that he was stepping down.

SoFi initially announced in mid-September that Cagney planned to resign “by the end of the year,” but just five days after announcing that Cagney planned to step down “by the end of the year,” Cagney officially stepped down.

Now, it’s on to Figure, home equity lending, and blockchain.

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