Better.com CEO Apologizes for Firing 900 Workers Over Zoom Call Weeks Before Christmas

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.
December 9, 2021 Updated: December 9, 2021

The CEO of Better.com has said he is “deeply sorry” for firing 900 of his employees just weeks before Christmas via a Zoom call that quickly went viral online.

In a letter to his employees, Vishal Garg, the executive of the online mortgage lender, said he “failed to show the appropriate amount of respect and appreciation for the individuals who were affected and for their contributions to Better.”

“I own the decision to do the layoffs, but in communicating it I blundered the execution. In doing so, I embarrassed you,” he wrote in the letter that was published on Better.com’s website (pdf).

The CEO came under fire last week when he laid off roughly 9 percent of his company’s employees via a Zoom call, citing market efficiency, performance, and productivity as the reason behind the firings.

He began the call by telling his employees that he does not have “great news” for them, adding that the last time he was forced to make a similar announcement, he had been reduced to tears.

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

The phone call was heavily criticized, particularly given its close proximity to the Christmas holidays, but Garg faced further backlash when he took to the networking site Blind to respond to comments about the call, Fortune reported last week.

Posting under the username “uneducated,” Garg reportedly accused hundreds of employees of “stealing” from the customers by being unproductive.

“You guys know that at least 250 of the people terminated were working an average of 2 hours a day while clocking in 8 hours+ a day in the payroll system?” he wrote. “They were stealing from you and stealing from our customers who pay the bills that pay our bills. Get educated.”

Fortune said Garg later confirmed in an interview that he was the user behind the account and stood by his comments.

In his letter to employees, Garg, who founded the company in 2015, said he realized that the way in which he communicated the layoffs “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,” he wrote before praising employees for their “dedication, focus, and expertise.”

“I couldn’t be more grateful for all you are accomplishing for the customers we serve,” he wrote.

The company announcement regarding mass layoffs came just days after TechCrunch reported that Better.com had received a $750 million cash infusion from its backers SoftBank and Aurora Acquisition earlier than expected after they decided to amend the terms of their initial financing agreement.

Better.com announced in May that it was going public via a merger with Aurora Acquisition, and the company, which is headquartered in Manhattan’s World Trade Center, is currently valued at around $7.7 billion.

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.