A New-York based mortgage lender fired over 900 employees on a Zoom call a little more than three weeks before Christmas and he did it in less than three minutes.
Only those being laid off were invited to participate on the call, and Better.com CEO Vishal Garg delivered the bad news — the entire diversity, equity and inclusion team was among those on the call, according to the Daily Mail.
“I come to you with not great news,” he said on the Wednesday call. “The market has changed, as you know, and we have to move with it in order to survive… so that hopefully we can continue to thrive and deliver on our mission.”
“This isn’t news you’re gonna wanna hear, but ultimately it was my decision and I wanted you to hear it from me,” a somber Garg continued. “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 this, I cried. This time, I hope to be stronger.”
That the CEO was focusing on how the decision was impacting him certainly didn’t help those on the receiving end of the message, and when he then announced that the company was laying off 15 percent of the workforce a woman can be heard saying, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”
Talk about bad delivery, Garg then declared, “If you’re on this call you are part of the unlucky group being laid off. Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.”
The tech startup that Forbes valued at $7 billion in October received a $750 million cash infusion the same week of the brutal layoff, according to SF Gate — the paper reported that a company spokesperson “later clarified to SFGATE that only 9% of employees were laid off. The discrepancy between Garg’s and the official company percentage remains unclear.”
Citing TechCrunch, the article reported that Chief Financial Officer Kevin Ryan said in an internal email that the firm would have “$1 billion of cash on the company’s balance sheet,” thanks to backers SoftBank and Aurora Acquisition.
“We pulled forward the funding of our SPAC deal … With this new structure the company will fortify our balance sheet and position us as extremely well capitalized in a tough mortgage market. Surviving is winning and capital ensures survival … By the end of this week we expect to have $1 billion of cash on the company’s balance sheet. Quantum’s more than we have ever had. [sic] We will continue working through the process of public listing but the most important step has been taken (getting the money),” the email read.
Garg begins to explain to the suddenly fired employees that they will be contacted by the HR department and what benefits will be available to them. A distraught woman is heard crying, “This is not real. Oh my god, I can’t believe this!”
“Thank you for each and every one of your’s individual contributions to Better,” he said, as the woman is heard wailing. “I wish the news was different. I wish we were thriving enthusiastically as we were at the beginning of this year — that’s not the case.”
In other footage shared on TikTok, a man recording the call reacts furiously upon the announcement of the “unlucky few” to say, “F—k you, dude!”
In an emailed statement to SG Gate after the layoffs, Ryan said: “Having to conduct layoffs is gut wrenching, especially this time of year, 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.”
On the other hand, Garg “later doubled-down in a scathing blog post which saw him lay into his staff for ‘stealing’ through laziness,” the Daily Mail reported.
“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?” Garg wrote under an anonymous name on the professional network Blind that he later confirmed was him, according to the British tabloid, adding, “They were stealing from you and stealing from our customers who pay the bills that pay our bills. Get educated.”
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