Peter Thiel’s Palantir Teams Up With Better to Create ‘Bloomberg’ for Home Loans

The mortgage lending company that faced criticism late last year for summarily laying off 900 people over Zoom is charting a new path.

The mortgage lending company that faced criticism late last year for summarily laying off 900 people over Zoom is “teaming up” with Palantir Technologies, the big-data software company co-founded by Peter Thiel, the companies announced Wednesday. 

The partnership will allow the mortgage company, Better, to quickly create a beefed-up mortgage platform that CEO Vishal Garg described to Insider as “Bloomberg for loans.” The forthcoming digital mortgage product will help organizations make more loans to unconventional borrowers, but it will be marketed to investors and mortgage originators alike.

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The spruced-up marketplace, “Tinman,” will combine Better’s loan platform and Palantir’s operating system to create a data-heavy platform that will speed up and simplify the underwriting process and “empower” industry investors and government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make “deeper data driven mortgage capital allocation decisions.”  

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Theoretically, that means the new product would allow third parties to look beyond traditional measures like credit scores and loan-to-value ratios by also considering things like freelance income, rental payment history, medical debt, and student loans, Garg told Insider.

Palantir and Better say that this ability for lenders to easily consider unconventional data points will open up homeownership opportunities to people struggling to get loans.

“This type of tool is a key step in achieving a fairer and better housing finance market,” Garg said in a prepared statement. 

Better, which funds home loans and helps affiliates provide mortgage, title and homeowners insurance, ranked as LinkedIn’s top startup in 2021 and 2020. But the company has faced difficulties over the last year as the red-hot housing market softened and fewer people hoped to refinance loans. 

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Then, in December, Garg faced intense national criticism for laying off hundreds of employees over Zoom and otherwise bungling the layoff process

By the first quarter of the year, the company’s revenue was half of what it had been one year earlier. Now, the company is in a rush to get its shop in order ahead of a deadline later this year, when its SPAC deal with Aurora Acquisition Corp. closes.

Better had previously planned to create the new product on its own, but the partnership with Palantir allowed the company to do in a few months what it had planned over the next five to 10 years, according to Insider.

Palantir, the famously secretive and allegedly all-seeing eye, has been described as a “secondary surveillance network” and worked with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and law enforcement agencies. 

Thiel, the company’s chairman, has written that he doesn’t believe “freedom and democracy are compatible” and recently exited Facebook’s board in order to focus on backing Trump-linked political candidates.

Tagged:

Palantir, better, homeownership, mortgage

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