Better.com CEO Fires 900 "Unlucky" Employees Over Zoom

Mortgage company Better.com CEO Vishal Garg fired about 900 employees over just a minute-long Zoom call on December 1. The CEO tried to sound empathetic during the call but has been widely criticized for the move, which many believe to be uncalled for.

“If you’re on this call you’re part of the unlucky group being laid off,” said Vishal Garg, chief executive of mortgage firm Better.com, on the video call, which later made its way to social media. Garg said that the previous time he did something similar, he cried.

Garg blamed the mass-sacking largely on the “changing market,” hinting at a tough business season.

He said, “The market has changed, as you know, and we have to move with it in order to survive so that hopefully we can continue to thrive and deliver on our mission.”

However, Garg failed to inform the employees about the $750 million fundraising from major Chinese investment firm Softbank, which acquired the New York firm through a SPAC company named Aurora Acquisition for $1.5 billion.

Better.com CFO Kevin Ryan told the BBC, “Having to conduct layoffs is gut-wrenching, especially this time of year.”

Garg’s call has stunned many in the industry as the company is planning to debut on the stock market, where the 2015-founded business is going to be valued at around $6.9 billion to $7.7 billion.

Garg also claimed that he and his company had overhired during the pandemic and the employees have been “stealing” by working less for full payment.

Garg reportedly said in another meeting held after the termination process, “Today, we acknowledge that we overhired and hired the wrong people, and in doing that, we failed. I failed. I was not disciplined over the last 18 months.”

Better.com is not the first company in the industry to lay off employees for redundancies. Zillow Offers also announced 25% of its workforce redundant after incurring a $400 million loss. The industry itself is highly reliant on interest and with the recent rise of interest rates, the company would’ve found it difficult to remain afloat.

Garg is not facing backlash for just the massive firing but for the method he employed to convey a grim message during a month of celebration.

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