Better.com CEO—Who Fired 900 Workers On Zoom Call—Taking Leave ‘Effective Immediately’
A week after firing 900 employees during a Zoom call, Vishal Garg, the CEO of Better.com, is taking leave “effectively immediately,” according to an internal memo sent to employees Friday.
In the note sent to employees, Paula Tuffin, the fintech company’s general counsel, described the events of the past week as “very regrettable” and said the board has commissioned a third-party to conduct an assessment of leadership and culture at the company. Tuffin wrote that Garg will be replaced by the company’s CFO, Kevin Ryan, as interim CEO.
“We have much work to do and we hope that everyone can refocus on our customer and support each other to continue to build a great company and a company we can all be proud of,” Tuffin wrote. The memo was first reported by Vice.
Better did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The fallout at the online mortgage lender has been swift since Garg laid off 9% of his company’s workforce during a single Zoom call, after which he castigated the departed workers as “lazy” on the social media platform Blind. Despite apologizing for “blundering” the layoffs, other examples of Garg’s poor treatment of workers — and even investors — have since emerged. Vice reported Wednesday that Garg referred to an investor as “sewage” and that he vehemently objected to giving Better employees a day off for an Indigenous holiday.
The recent revelations follow Fintech Zoom reporting in November 2020 that documented Garg’s long history of poor treatment of employees — including calling workers “dumb dolphins” in an email. Fintech Zoom also documented Garg’s extensive legal entanglements, which accuse him and companies he controls of fraud and misleading investors. (A Better.com spokesperson responded at the time that “Lawsuits are an unfortunate fact of life for successful startups and their CEOs.”)
Despite his track record, Garg had, until recently, been able to point to the success of Better. Backed by SoftBank, and thanks to the company’s home loan product that had driven revenue on the back of a Covid-driven housing boom, the company was on track to enter the public markets via SPAC at a $7 billion valuation before the end of 2021.