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Better.com CEO apologizes for firing 900 employees on Zoom but fallout continues

Better.com CEO Vishal Garg is pictured in this company video posted to Vimeo.
Better.com CEO Vishal Garg is pictured in this company video posted to Vimeo. Garg laid off 900 employees, about 9% of the company’s workforce, in a three-minute Zoom call just a day after the company announced it had taken in $750 million cash in new investments.
Vimeo.com

Last week, online mortgage lender Better.com CEO Vishal Garg laid off 900 employees, about 9% of the company’s workforce, in a three-minute Zoom call just a day after the company announced it had taken in $750 million cash in new investments.

Since then, Garg has suffered widespread criticism for both the timing and method of announcing the layoffs. Wednesday, TechCrunch reported a leaked letter from Garg to the company’s remaining employees included an apology for how he handled things.

“I failed to show the appropriate amount of respect and appreciation for the individuals who were affected and for their contributions to Better,” Garg wrote in the letter according to TechCrunch. “I own the decision to do the layoffs, but in communicating it I blundered the execution. In doing so, I embarrassed you.”

TechCrunch and other outlets also report a string of resignations by Better.com executives have followed close behind the Zoom layoff debacle.

Social niceties appear to be somewhat of a challenge for Garg.

Following the layoffs, CNN Business reported Garg accused the fired employees of “stealing” from their colleagues and customers by being unproductive and only working two hours a day, according to Fortune, which confirmed those sentiments in an interview with the CEO.

Last month, reporting by Forbes included an email from Garg to employees lambasting them for their work habits.

“HELLO — WAKE UP BETTER TEAM,” Garg wrote in an email to employees obtained by Forbes. “You are TOO DAMN SLOW. You are a bunch of DUMB DOLPHINS and … DUMB DOLPHINS get caught in nets and eaten by sharks. SO STOP IT. STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. YOU ARE EMBARRASSING ME.”

Christian Chapman, a former underwriter at Better.com, told CNN he thought he was logging onto another of CEO Vishal Garg’s town halls last week.

He didn’t know it would be his last call as an employee of the company.

“If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off,” Garg said on a one-way webinar last Wednesday, which lasted three minutes. Garg started immediately and did not wait for workers to trickle into the meeting. “Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.”

The call ended abruptly, leaving the underwriter dumbfounded. Chapman, who is the sole provider for his family of seven, was used to outbursts from his boss, but said this was unexpected.

“It was a surreal moment. It was one of those things that you don’t believe it’s going to happen,” Chapman told CNN.