Vishal Garg: Better.com CEO fires 900 staff over Zoom call before Christmas

Executive cites market conditions and a downturn in the company's performance as the reasons behind the dismissals.

Better.com chief executive Vishal Garg said dismissed employees would be offered four weeks of severance pay, one month of full benefits and two months of cover. Photo: better.com
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The chief executive of US-based digital mortgage lender Better.com laid off about 15 per cent of the company's workforce on a Zoom call.

“If you are on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off,” Vishal Garg, chief executive of Better.com said on the December 1 call, a video of which was uploaded on YouTube by an employee.

“Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.”

Mr Garg cited market conditions and a downturn in the company's performance as the reasons behind the dismissals.

In May, the SoftBank-backed mortgage lender said it was going public through a special purpose acquisition company and last week received $750 million in cash as part of the deal, according to TechCrunch.

The company will make its market debut by merging with Aurora Acquisition.

Better.com will have $1 billion on its balance sheet by the end of last week, TechCrunch reported, citing an email from chief financial officer Kevin Ryan.

“This is the second time in my career I am 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,” Mr Garg said on the call.

He cited how a changed market forced the company to take this decision “in order to survive so that, hopefully, we can continue to thrive and deliver on our mission”.

“Ultimately, it was my decision and I wanted you to hear it from me. It has been a really, really challenging decision to make,” he said on the Zoom call.

Quote
This is the second time in my career I am doing this and I do not want to do this. The last time I did it, I cried
Vishal Garg, chief executive of Better.com

“I wish the news was different. I wish we were thriving as we were at the beginning of the year. That is not the case.”

He then said employees could expect an email from human resources detailing benefits and severance.

All US employees given the pink slip would be offered four weeks of severance pay, one month of full benefits and two months of cover, Mr Garg said.

“Having to conduct layoffs is gut wrenching, especially this time of year,” Mr Ryan, the chief financial officer, said in a statement to CNN Business.

“However a fortress balance sheet and a reduced and focused workforce together set us up to play offence going into a radically evolving home ownership market.”

Updated: December 08, 2021, 7:47 AM
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