The boss of a startup mortgage website who fired 900 employees over a Zoom call last week has apologised after coming under fire for how he handled the mass layoffs.
“I failed to show the appropriate amount of respect and appreciation for the individuals who were affected and for their contributions to Better,” said Vishal Garg, chief executive of mortgage firm Better.com in a statement (PDF).
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While Garg says he owns the decision to furlough the workers, he is sorry that his communication was less than tactful and apologised for embarrassing his employees.
“I realize the way I communicated this news made a difficult situation worse. I am deeply sorry,” he added. “I failed to show the appropriate amount of respect.”
Last Wednesday, Garg mass fired 900 Better.com mortgage employees on a Zoom webinar. A video clip of the call went viral earlier this week, inviting comments on social media such as “this is inhumane” and “it’s all about him”.
“If you’re on this call you’re part of the unlucky group being laid off. Your employment here is terminated. Effective immediately,” said Garg during the mass sacking.
The CEO informed the employees that Better.com was laying off about 15 percent of its workforce, citing market cooldown, efficiency, and performance as the reasons.
“I wish the news were different. I wish we were thriving,” he said. “This is the second time in my career I’m doing this and I do not want to do this. The last time I did it, I cried.”
Throughout the call, Garg remained emotionless and to the point.
But the Zoom call is apparently not Garg’s first blunder with employees.
In an email obtained by Forbes magazine, Garg wrote to employees: “You are TOO DAMN SLOW. You are a bunch of DUMB DOLPHINS and…DUMB DOLPHINS get caught in nets and eaten by sharks. SO STOP IT. STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. YOU ARE EMBARRASSING ME.”
Better.com, which Garg founded in 2015, aims to use technology to make obtaining a mortgage “faster and more efficient” according to its website. Backed by Softbank, Better announced plans earlier this year to go public via a merger with blank cheque company or SPAC that it says would value Better at between $6.9bn and $7.7bn