The CEO of an online startup fired 900 of his employees in a brutal Zoom call – then slammed them over being so lazy they effectively ‘stole’ from customers.
Vishal Garg axed around nine per cent of mortgage firm Better.com’s workforce last Wednesday, including its entire diversity, equity and inclusion team, which deals with complaints about racism and sexism in the workplace.
The blunt call saw Garg say: ‘This isn’t news that you’re going to want to hear…If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off. Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.’
Garg had warned what lay ahead for staff during the three minute call, telling them: ‘I come to you with not great news. 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.
‘This isn’t news that you’re going to want to hear. But ultimately it was my decision. And I wanted you to hear from me. It’s been a really, really challenging decision to make.
‘This is the second time in my career I’m doing this and I do not do not want to do this. The last time I did it, I cried. This time, I hope to be stronger. We are laying off about 15% of the company for a number of reasons — the market, efficiency and performances and productivity.’ A firm spokesman later corrected the boss’s figure, and said that the actual proportion of staff who’d been laid off was nine per cent.
Better.com’s controversial CEO Vishal Garg, 43, fired 900 employees over a Zoom call claiming market fluctuations performance, and productivity. However, the mortgage lender, backed by Softbank, received a $750 million cash infusion last week, after announcing in May it was going public through a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC)
One axed worker filmed the call and shared it online, complete with a moment where they cursed at Garg, who owns at least $1 billion in equity, as he confirmed the mass lay-offs at Better.com, which has offices in San Francisco and Charlotte, North Carolina.
The unidentified male worker could be heard to say ‘F**k you dude. Are you f**king kidding me?’
Garg, who is married with children, wielded the ax while blaming market fluctuations, despite a $750 million cash infusion the mortgage company received last week.
But he also hinted at issues with ‘performance and productivity,’ and uploaded a scathing blog post which saw him lash his staff for being idle.
He wrote: ‘You guys know that at least 250 of the people terminated were working an average of 2 hours a day while clocking 8 hours+ a day in the payroll system?’
‘They were stealing from you and stealing from our customers who pay the bills that pay our bills. Get educated,’ he added.
Garg, 43, also said market efficiency, performance, and productivity were to blame for the firings, adding that it was necessary for the company to ‘move in order to survive.’
A Better.com spokesman declined to comment further on the mass-firing when approached by TechCrunch, except to correct the percentage of company that had lost their jobs during the meeting.
Better, which is backed by Softbank, received a $750 million cash infusion last week, after announcing in May it was going public through a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC). The company now has a valuation of $7 billion.
Garg is no stranger to controversy. Last year, Forbes obtained emails in which Garg reportedly called employees ‘too damn lazy.’ In August, The Daily Beast reported that he had threatened to burn a business partner alive.
Garg’s rationale behind the firings was further debunked by reports that the CEO accused workers of being unproductive and stealing from the company by working two hours and clocking 8+
Better.com provides ‘fast, low-fee approvals for mortgages,’ according to its website.
In a statement to the network in the aftermath of the firings, Garg said: ‘Having to conduct layoffs is gut-wrenching, especially this time of year.’
‘However, a fortress balance sheet and a reduced and focused workforce together set us up to play offense going into a radically evolving homeownership market.
This isn’t news that you’re going to want to hear…If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off,’ Garg abruptly announced on the call. ‘Your employment here is terminated effective immediately’
‘I think they could have been phrased differently, but honestly, the sentiment is there,’ he told the business magazine, adding that it was a difficult time in the mortgage industry.
During the now-notorious Zoom call which saw 900 people fired, Garg did voice some sadness.
‘This is the second time in my career I’m doing this and I do not want to do this. The last time I did it, I cried. This time I hope to be stronger,’ Garg said on the call.
Garg has been largely criticized for being too harsh on employees, often accusing subordinates of being ‘too damn slow.’
In an email obtained by Forbes last year, he allegedly told staff: ‘You are TOO DAMN SLOW. You are a bunch of DUMB DOLPHINS… SO STOP IT. STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. YOU ARE EMBARRASSING ME. ‘
In August, The Daily Beast reported that one of Garg’s closest executives Elana Knoller, was given stocks potentially worth tens of millions of dollars, $8,000 per month for two homes and other perks.
Knoller was eventually placed on administrative leave for bullying.
The Daily Beast also reported that Garg told a former business partner that he was ‘going to staple him against a f**king wall and burn him alive.’