His employees are now revealing the ugly truth about working under him.
By Ashima Sethi
Vishal Garg, the CEO of digital mortgage firm Better.com, has come under intense scrutiny for his decision to lay off 900 employees over a Zoom call, leaving many members of his team unemployed just in time for the holidays. Harsh.
Garg, who founded the company in 2012, held a conference call with his staff earlier this month, during which he was recorded saying: “
Hi everyone, thank you for joining, I come to you with not great news. 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 are going to want to hear but ultimately it was my decision and I wanted you to hear it from me. It has been a really challenging decision to make, this is the second time in my career that I am doing this and I do not want to do this. The last time I did it I cried, this time I hope to be stronger. We are laying off about 15 percent of the company for a number of reasons. The market, efficiency, performances, and productivity. If you are in this call you are part of this unlucky group that is being laid off. Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.”
Oh but it doesn’t end there.
Garg then went on to complain about the fired employees via a blogpost on Blind. He said, “You guys know that at least 250 of the people terminated were working an average of two hours a day while clocking eight hours+ a day in the payroll system? They were stealing from you and stealing from our customers who pay the bills that pay our bills. Get educated.” Despite writing under the username ‘uneducated,’ Garg later confirmed to the media that it was indeed him.
Garg has since come under fire for his lack of respect and insensitivity in the way he delivered the news and despite penning an apology letter to the dismissed employees, many of his ex-team members have since gone public with statements calling out Garg for his terrible leadership and fostering a culture of fear in the office. According to Motherboard, he has referred to investors as ‘sewage, ‘ ‘ingrates,’ ‘thugs,’ in emails and even went so far as to call one of them an ‘old private equity Neaderthal.’
In another exchange, an employee asks Garg if the company can start offering a day off to commemorate the annual Indigenous People’s Day to which he responds with: “Our payroll runs about $5mm / business day. Does it make sense to transfer $5 million to all employees? Would it be better used if we actually used it to help those who were affected by [colonialism].
He then continues to state that “Better has ZERO obligation to do this,” and that he has a duty to all partners and shareholders to not spend capital on things that will have no tangible outcome. He concludes with, “Thank you for your activism. Happy to have a dialogue. But in the interim, there is no power without capital. So please continue to help our customers and earn us our capital, and therefore our freedom.”
The blowback has been so intense that yesterday it was announced that Garg would be ‘taking time off from the company’ while the business conducts a ‘leadership and cultural assessment.’ The company’s board sent out an email stating that “Following the very regrettable events of the last week, Better.com CFO Kevin Ryan will now be managing day-to-day operations.”
Forbes has also revealed that all of this drama arose just a few days after the company received a $750 million cash infusion with a valuation of $7 billion.