Imagine you are invited to a work Zoom meeting a few weeks before Christmas. You take a pause from gift shopping for your children and spouse to log onto the meeting. Within three minutes of the meeting’s beginning, you are told that you are being laid off, effective immediately.
This was reality for 900 Better.com employees (9% of the company’s staff) on Wednesday, December 1. A recording of the shocking meeting went viral on TikTok, starting with Better.com CEO Vishal Garg saying “I come to you with not great news.”
Better.com is a digital mortgage start-up valued at $7 billion. Garg founded the company in 2014 with the hope to ease and lower the cost of homebuying. The layoffs came within days of a $750 million cash infusion. According to CNN, among the fired were Better.com’s diversity, equity, and inclusion team.
Garg attempted to show empathy to the “unlucky” employees by stating that the last time he cried the last time he laid off an astronomical amount of employees, hoping that he would be “stronger” this time around.
“If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off,” Garg said in the video. “Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.”
Laid-off employees will receive one month’s pay and three months of benefits, NBC News reported.
The abrupt and unfortunate timing of this decision had many criticizing Garg and how he handled the situation, stating that this was cruel and unethical.
Garg’s reputation has received a hit before, as Forbes obtained an agressive email from Garg to employees. “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,” Garg wrote.
After the video went viral, Garg sent an apology to the laid-off employees. The letter was leaked by one of the fired employees online. “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. “I own the decision to do the layoffs, but in communicating it I blundered the execution. In doing so, I embarrassed you.”
The controversy has led to several executive staff members resigning, like the VP of communications, head of marketing, and head of public relations, TechCrunch reported.