When Anthony Noto took over as the new CEO of SoFi in March 2018, the online lending startup was in crisis.
Noto, who will speak onstage at Code Conference on Tuesday, was replacing the company’s founder Mike Cagney, who resigned over reports of managers sexually harassing female colleagues without repercussions; a brutal workplace culture; and, as Cagney only admitted later, his affairs with subordinates.
A little more than a year later, Noto has helped SoFi turn the page on the Cagney story, and led SoFi’s expansion into new consumer-finance product areas like checking accounts and stock investing, to complement its roots in student loan refinancing.
Now, he’s trying to make the company a household name and build credibility, which is crucial for a young company handling people’s money — if you search “SoFi” on Google, the question “Is SoFi legit?” still appears prominently on the first results page.
One way he appears to be trying to build broad awareness: SoFi is reportedly close to inking a 20-year, $400 million deal to secure naming rights on a new football stadium in Inglewood, CA that will eventually be the home of the National Football League’s Los Angeles Rams and Chargers NFL teams. (Noto once served as the NFL’s chief financial officer.) The stadium is also scheduled to host the 2022 Super Bowl and is expected to be a key venue during the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
Still, the sponsorship deal would be a risky bet for a privately held company that is still unprofitable, investing in new areas, and operating a lending business that is not yet totally predictable; that core business grew quarter over quarter for just the first time in a year during the first three months of 2019, according to an investor update viewed by Recode.
I’ll be asking Noto about these topics and more when I interview him onstage at the Code Conference at 3:15 p.m. PT on Tuesday.
Noto was previously an executive at Twitter, where he held the CFO and then COO role. He also had a long career as a banker on Wall Street, spending more than a decade at Goldman Sachs.
How to watch the full interview: Each and every onstage interview at Code will be available to watch in full on Recode’s YouTube channel in the coming days.
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