Renewables fintech Brighte powers down, shedding 15% of its team

- June 20, 2022 2 MIN READ
Mike Cannon-Brookes and Brighte founder Katherine McConnell
Sydney fintech Brighte, which has been riding the wave of home solar funding, has cut its workforce by around 15%, laying off more than 30 staff.

The move comes as homeowner interest in solar panels jumps in response to skyrocketing energy prices.

Despite being backed by heavy-hitting investors, including the family VC firms of Atlassian billionaires Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, Brighte’s founder and CEO has cut the team to preserve cash amid what she believes could be a 1-2 year downturn.

Founded in 2015 to finance residential renewable energy improvements, the company has since written more than $500 million in financing.

Cannon-Brookes’ Grok Ventures backed Brighte in a $100 million raise in January last year, following up with $185 million in asset-backed securitisation (ABS) last November as it looks to get into the “gentailing” as an energy retailer with its clients.

The business has raised $145 million in venture capital.

Last Christmas Brighte moved into EV financing in collaboration with ACT Government as part of its Sustainable Household Scheme, which offers zero interest loans between $2,000 to $15,000 for everything from household rooftop solar to electric cooling systems, cook tops, and EVs.

But its role in the sector came into question late last year when ABC TV’s Four Corners program, investigated how vulnerable Australians, including pensioners in regional towns, were being sold overpriced solar systems, costing nearly double their worth. Brighte was financing and profiting off those deals.

In one instance, two pensioners were sold a system worth an estimated $4,500-$5,000 that cost them $10,500 in fortnightly payments of $103 over four years, financed through Brighte Capital.

The company told Four Corners that: “As a financier, Brighte does not set the pricing or commission structures of any third parties.”

The layoffs at Brighte are among the first seen in Australian startups. Earlier this month Melbourne-based creative marketplace Envato announced it would shed 100 jobs globally as it looked to realign its focus.

Malcolm Turnbull-backed modular solar panel business 5B, based in Sydney, also cut its workforce by a quarter at the start of the month, blaming global supply chain issues.



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