Sun, 23 Jan 2022

900 staff fired on Zoom call by mortgage lender Better.com

Robert Besser
09 Dec 2021, 16:10 GMT+10

NEW YORK CITY, New York: Vishal Garg, CEO of New York-based online mortgage lender Better.com, laid off some 900 employees on a Zoom call this week, accusing them of not being productive while working at home.

Better.com became a success during the COVID-19 pandemic, as city dwellers fled to the suburbs, fueling a boom in the housing market and among mortgage lenders.

Garg, 43, was unapologetic when announcing the mass firing on the call, which has now gone viral after being posted on TikTok, YouTube and other social media accounts.

"This is not news that you are going to want to hear. If you are on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off. Your employment here is terminated effective immediately," he said, adding that he did "not want to do this."

He added that the "market has changed" and the company had to slim down to remain nimble enough to adapt to the evolving housing market, which appears to be cooling after a pandemic-boosted boom.

Garg also revealed to be an anonymous author of a scathing blog post on Bling, which criticized Better.com employees, stating, "You guys know that at least 250 of the people terminated were working an average of 2 hours a day, while clocking 8 hours+ a day in the payroll system. They were stealing from you and stealing from our customers who pay the bills. Get educated."

Garg confirmed to Fortune that he was the author of the post.

In an interview with Fortune, Garg said that the company began reviewing employee productivity data, including missed telephone call rates, number of inbound and outbound calls, employees showing up late to meetings with customers, and other problems.

"As we started to slow down our pace of hiring, we saw some alarming statistics, as a number of our customers were not getting the service that they deserved from our teammates," he said.

Garg has a reputation for having high expectations and punishing employees over minor infractions, according to the New York Post.

In May, the company announced it plans to go public through a SPAC, or special-purpose acquisition company, at a $7.7 billion valuation.

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