Vishal Garg: Better.com CEO who fired 900 workers on Zoom returns to job after after ‘time off’

Garg is returning as the company’s top executive, according to an internal memo

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Wednesday 19 January 2022 11:00
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CEO fires 900 employees over Zoom call

Vishal Garg, who laid off 900 Better.com employees in a video call, will return as the US-based digital mortgage lending company’s chief executive.

Mr Garg had announced in December last year that he was “taking time off effectively immediately” after receiving massive backlash for terminating at least nine per cent of the company’s workforce via a Zoom call just weeks before the Christmas holiday.

He told employees they were part of an “unlucky group” who were going to be terminated “effective immediately.”

According to an internal memo accessed by CNBC, Mr Garg will be “resuming his full-time duties as CEO.”

“As you know, Better’s CEO Vishal Garg has been taking a break from his full-time duties to reflect on his leadership, reconnect with the values that make Better great and work closely with an executive coach,” read the memo, attributed to the company’s board.

“Vishal will be resuming his full-time duties as CEO. We are confident in Vishal and in the changes he is committed to making to provide the type of leadership, focus and vision that Better needs at this pivotal time,” it added.

The memo stated that board members Raj Date and Dinesh Chopra have resigned, however, “not because of any disagreement with Better.”

A number of top executives had left the company after the mass sacking.

Better.com’s head of marketing Melanie Hahn, head of public relations Tanya Hayre Gillogley and vice president of communications Patrick Lenihan were all reported to have tendered their resignations.

Mr Garg – during the zoom call – cited market efficiency, productivity and performance as the reasons for the mass layoffs.

Members of the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion recruiting team were among those who were fired.

Despite claiming that he desperately did not want to fire the employees and that he was going to do his best not to cry, Mr Garg later went on to disparage the terminated workers in an anonymous blog post, calling them “lazy and unproductive” and accusing them of stealing from the company.

He later apologised for the way he handled the layoffs, according to a mail leaked online by an employee.

“I 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,” Mr Garg’s letter read.

Better.com, founded in 2016, recently received $750m (£566m) in investments and is set to go public. The company is preparing to have about $1bn (£754m) on its balance sheet.

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