California Startup CEO Fires 900 Employees By Holiday Season Video Conference

Social media commenters were not kind to the CEO of Better.com when a video was circulated of his Zoom call telling around 900 employees they were being laid off in the holiday season. The digital mortgage company’s top executive, Vishal Garg, appears in the video delivering the termination message.

Garg starts the call by telling participants that he comes with “not great news” and says he cried the last time he did what he was doing.

He says the market has changed and that the company has to move with it “to survive.” He proceeded to tell the call participants, making up about 9 percent of the total staff, that they had all been laid off.

The company maintains offices in three states and is reported to have just received a $750 million cash infusion. The Sacramento Bee reported that the company is valued at around $7 billion. It is unconfirmed whether the recent capital boost was conditioned on the staffing reduction. According to an internal email sent by the company’s chief financial officer, the capital acquisition would result in “$1 billion of cash on the company’s balance sheet.”

Garg did not accept any blame personally or on behalf of management for the layoffs. Instead, he cited the market and the performance and productivity of the staff.

He told participants that if they were on the call, they were members of the “unlucky group” being let go just weeks before Christmas. The employees on the call did not realize that all participants were being laid off until the call was underway, and at least one employee can be heard on the video conference saying, “F*** you, dude.”

The company stated that terminating employees at this time of year is “gut-wrenching.” It said that a “fortress budget sheet” along with a “reduced and focused workforce” will allow the firm to “play offense going into a radically evolving homeownership market.”