Better.com, the home mortgage company, fired over 900 employees on Wednesday in a since-viral Zoom call with CEO Vishal Garg. The employees assembled totaled around 9% of their workforce, who were deeply enraged with the decision to be laid off right before the holidays.
“If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off,” Vishal Garg said in the Zoom call. “Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.”
Despite claiming that he did “not want to do this,” Garg appeared very unapologetic, especially as news broke that the company just received over $750 million from investors last week. The Better.com CEO claimed that the “market has changed” and that the company had to slim down to stay viable in the post-pandemic world.
CNN also reported that the entire diversity, equity and inclusion recruiting team was fired.
“F**k you, dude” one employee responded in a reaction video shared on TikTok. Citing performance and productivity issues, many other employees wondered what happened to cause them to lose their jobs right before Christmas.
Forbes had previously valued the company’s worth at nearly $7.7 billion just this past October.
“Having to conduct layoffs is gut wrenching, especially this time of year,” Better.com CFO Kevin Ryan later told CNN. “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.”
“As we started to slow down our pace of hiring, we saw some alarming statistics and a number of our customers were not getting the service that they deserved from our teammates,” Garg said on the Zoom call.
@wanderellaco Why Better.com severance package is bad #layoff #layoffs #jobsearch ♬ original sound – Wanderella
According to Insider, a town hall meeting with the company after the firing announced “Better 2.0,” which he called a “leaner, meaner, hungrier workforce.” Video of the event leaked in which he described growing the company ten times its current worth.
Many of the employees who were let go brought up Vishal Garg’s many public controversies, including an email from Nov. 2020 when the 43-year-old called all of his employees “DUMB” in an angry, all caps blast.
“You are TOO DAMN SLOW. You are a bunch of DUMB DOLPHINS,” he wrote. “DUMB DOLPHINS get caught in nets and eaten by sharks. SO STOP IT. STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. YOU ARE EMBARRASSING ME.”
Later, when another executive congratulated the sales team for good work, Vishal Garg responded very unhappy and said that they were still underperforming in his eyes.
“Pls share the aggressive ‘I am going to break you’ tactics,” he wrote. “Punish them. Punish them like they just stole candy from your little sister. And until you fight for the consumer, you aren’t getting my love.”
According to The Daily Beast during this time, an unnamed “loyal lieutenant” of Garg’s also received millions in stock options before being put on administrative leave for bullying other employees.
The fired employees will reportedly receive one month of severance pay and two months of healthcare benefits before needing to find new employment.
According to the New York Post, Vishal Garg was also ousted as the author of a previously-anonymous, scathing blog post directed toward Better.com employees, where he criticized employees with no repercussions.
“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?” he claimed in the complaint. “They were stealing from you and stealing from our customers who pay the bills that pay our bills. Get educated.”
He confirmed to Fortune that he wrote the message, but has refused to step down as CEO.