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900 Better.com employees learn their jobs are cut in Zoom call

About 900 digital mortgage company employees Better.com learned they were fired during a brutally scheduled three-minute group Zoom call weeks before Christmas.

“I come to you with no good news,” CEO Vishal Garg said at the start of the meeting Wednesday, according to a recording posted on TikTok.

“We are laying off about 15% of the business for a number of reasons – efficiency and market performance, and productivity,” he said.

“If you’re on that call, you’re part of the unlucky group that’s being laid off,” Garg continued. “Your employment here is terminated with immediate effect. “

He told employees the decision to let them go was “difficult”.

Vishal Garg, CEO of Better.com, during the Zoom call in which he announced layoffs.

“This is the second time in my career that I’ve done this, and I don’t want to do this. The last time I did it, I cried,” Garg said. “Um, this time I hope I’m stronger.”

He told the hundreds of former employees that they would receive about a month’s salary and three months of benefits, all of which would be detailed in an email sent to their personal email addresses by Human Resources.

An employee who was laid off said his company-supplied computer went dark shortly after the call ended. He did not receive the email from human resources until a few hours later.

“I was sitting here thinking, ‘What is this? “,” Said the employee, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal.

He added: “I thought I was safe. I had perfect reviews and I thought I was an integral part of the team. It’s a disappointment because I know I worked really hard for it. help build this business, and it looks like I just wasted my time. “

The way Garg chose to fire hundreds of people was shocking, the former employee said.

“It looked like he could have found a better way to go about it,” he said. “Maybe in single rooms with HR.”

Better.com announcement plans to go public in May, but the deal was delayed.

A day before the layoffs, the company received an injection of $ 750 million from its backers, Fortune and TechCrunch reported.

The employee who was made redundant said it was an indication the company was in “urgent need of capital”.

“It’s definitely not good no matter how they turn it,” he said.

Kevin Ryan, the company’s chief financial officer, presented the cash advance and the layoffs as a victory for the company.

“Having to lay off workers is heartbreaking, especially at this time of year, but a fortress record and a small, concentrated workforce allow us to go on the offensive in a homeownership market. changing dramatically, ”Ryan said in a statement.

Garg founded the company in 2014 “with the goal of overhauling the mortgage lending process,” according to the Better.com website. Garg wanted to make buying a home faster, easier and cheaper.

He has faced controversy before. In an email to employees obtained by Forbes last year he wrote: “You are TOO DAMN SLOW. You are a bunch of DUMB DOLPHINS and… DUMB DOLPHINS get caught in nets and eaten by sharks. THEN STOP IT. STOP THAT. STOP IT NOW. YOU KISS ME. ”

Garg declined to participate in the Forbes profile, and it’s unclear what prompted the email.

Better, which is based in New York City, has offices in Charlotte, North Carolina; Oakland and Irvine, California; and Gurgaon, India.