The chief executive of digital mortgage lending company Better.com reportedly accused hundreds of staffers of stealing from the company after laying off 900 people in a Zoom call.
A recording of CEO Vishal Garg announcing the termination of about 15 per cent of Better.com’s employees in the US and India went viral last week as viewers shared their shock at his blunt delivery.
“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,” Mr Garg says in the video.
He later defended the move in a post on Blind, an anonymous review site, according to Fortune.
"You guys know that at least 250 of the people terminated were working an average of 2 hours a day while clocking in 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," Mr Garg wrote under the username “uneducated”.
Mr Garg confirmed to Fortune that he is the person who wrote the post, saying: "I think they could have been phrased differently, but honestly the sentiment is there."
The outlet reported that Better.com determined who would be laid off by reviewing individual employee data such as client meeting attendance and number of calls made, answered and missed.
Members of the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion recruiting team were among those who were fired, CNN Business reported.
Mr Garg began the announcement by saying the market had changed and the company had to move with it in order to survive.
“This isn’t news you are going to want to hear. But ultimately, it was my decision and I wanted you to hear it 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,” he said.
“We are laying off about 15 per cent of the company,” he added.
He cited market efficiency, productivity and performance as the reason for the mass layoffs.
The chief executive said all the US-based employees laid off would get four weeks of severance, a month of full benefits and two months of coverup for which the company would pay the premium.
Clips of the video call spread like wildfire on social media, with one appearing to show a fired employee expressing shock at the news.
“This is not real. Oh my god, I can’t believe this. This is not real. Oh no, this can’t be happening,” the person can be heard saying over the clip.
“Having to conduct layoffs is gut-wrenching, especially this time of year,” the company’s chief financial officer Kevin Ryan said in a statement to CNN.
“However a fortress balance sheet and a reduced and focused workforce together set us up to play offence going into a radically evolving homeownership market,” Mr Ryan added.
Better.com, founded in 2016, recently received $750m (£566m) in investments and is set to go public. The company is preparing to have about $1 billion (£754m) on its balance sheet, CNN reported.
While layoffs are an unfortunate reality for countless companies, Mr Garg also has a history of insulting his employees and has been the subject of numerous fraud and financial misappropriation allegations at his previous companies.
In an email obtained by Forbes magazine in 2020, he wrote to 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 (sic)”.