US company Better.com fires 900 employees on Zoom call | News | DW | 07.12.2021

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US company Better.com fires 900 employees on Zoom call

Better.com's CEO Vishal Garg has been criticized for the way he fired hundreds of people. This came a week after the mortgage lender received a massive cash advance from investors.

A woman is looking for a job and has her hands in her hair

An employee working from home who appears to be upset

Digital mortgage company Better.com laid off about 900 employees on a single Zoom call abruptly scheduled just weeks ahead of the holidays, US media reported Monday.

"If you're on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off," said the company CEO Vishal Garg during a call last Wednesday.

"Your employment here is terminated effective immediately," he said, according to a recording of the call uploaded on social media.

The company and its CEO were widely criticized for what many said was an "insensitive," "heartless" or "harsh," move.

Garg cited market efficiency, staff performance, and productivity as the reasons behind the mass-lay-offs of what he said was 15% of the company's workforce.

"This is the second time in my career I'm doing this… the last I did it, I cried," he said.

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

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$750 million cash infusion

What Garg did not mention during the call was that last week, the company received a $750 million (€664 million) cash infusion from its investors as part of the deal, news outlet TechCrunch and Fortune magazine reported.

Chief financial officer Kevin Ryan said the layoffs and the cash infusion were big wins for the company.

"Having to conduct layoffs is gut-wrenching, especially this time of year," he said in a statement quoted by NBC news. 

"However, a fortress balance sheet and a reduced and focused workforce together set us up to play offense going into a radically evolving homeownership market."

The Softbank-backed company — founded by Garg in 2014 — is estimated to be worth around $6 billion.

Last year, Garg courted controversy for an email that he sent his staff.

In the email, he wrote, "You are TOO DAMN SLOW. You are a bunch of DUMB DOLPHINS... SO STOP IT. STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. YOU ARE EMBARRASSING ME," according to a copy obtained by Fortune magazine. 

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