Vishal Garg: Better.com CEO apologises for laying off 900 employees on Zoom call

'I failed to show the appropriate amount of respect and appreciation for the individuals affected,' he says

Vishal Garg, chief executive of Better.com, said he owns the decision to lay-off staff but blundered the execution. Photo: better.com

The chief executive of US-based digital mortgage lender Better.com, who laid off about 15 per cent of the company’s workforce on a Zoom call, has apologised to current employees for the way he handled the situation, according to an internal letter leaked on anonymous workplace community app Blind.

“I want to apologise for the way I handled the layoffs last week,” Vishal Garg said in the letter.

“I failed to show the appropriate amount of respect and appreciation for the individuals who were affected and for their contributions to Better.”

A video of the December 1 Zoom call where Mr Garg fired about 900 employees of the SoftBank-backed company was uploaded on YouTube by an employee.

“If you are on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off,” Mr Garg said on the December 1 call. “Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.”

The chief executive cited market conditions and a downturn in the company’s performance as reasons behind the dismissals.

“I own the decision to do the layoffs, but in communicating it I blundered the execution. In doing so, I embarrassed you,” Mr Garg said in the letter to current employees.

“I realise that the way I communicated this news made a difficult situation worse. I am deeply sorry and am committed to learning from this situation and doing more to be the leader that you expect me to be.”

Meanwhile, sources told TechCrunch the company’s vice president of communications, Patrick Lenihan; head of public relations, Tanya Gillogley; and head of marketing, Melanie Hahn, have all submitted their resignations.

Quote
I realise that the way I communicated this news made a difficult situation worse
Vishal Garg, chief executive, Better.com

Shortly after laying off hundreds of people, Mr Garg addressed remaining employees in a livestreamed town hall meeting, according to a leaked recording shared with news publication Insider.

“Today, we acknowledge that we overhired and hired the wrong people, and in doing that, we failed,” the chief executive said in the December 1 meeting. “I failed. I was not disciplined over the last 18 months.”

He laid out a vision of what he called “Better 2.0,” with a “leaner, meaner, hungrier workforce”, according to the leaked recording of the town hall meeting.

The mortgage lender also pushed back its public listing through a merger with a blank-check firm Aurora Acquisition after amending the deal a day before it terminated part of its workforce, according to Bloomberg.

The company will seek new regulatory approval after revising the terms of the merger, sources told Bloomberg. That will push back the closing of the transaction, which the companies had previously announced was likely to happen in the fourth quarter.

Better.com announced last week it had received a cash infusion of about $750 million as an amendment of its special purpose acquisition company agreement, according to TechCrunch.

Updated: December 8th 2021, 6:24 AM