Story at a glance
- Last week, Better.com CEO Vishal Garg scheduled a Zoom call to fire approximately 900 employees.
- Days before the mass firing, Better.com received a $750 million cash infusion ahead of the company going public.
- Garg was previously embroiled in controversy when an email where he called employees “dumb dolphins” was leaked.
One company unexpectedly laid off around 900 employees weeks before Christmas, but internal details reveal an uncomfortable reality about its finances days before the mass firings.
Better.com CEO Vishal Garg scheduled a Zoom call last week to tell employees they would be laid off, citing market efficiency, performances and productivity. About 9 percent of the company would be laid off, effective immediately, according to TechCrunch.
One company source also told TechCrunch that it had “too many people in the wrong places.”
The firings were considered unexpected, as the company had just received a $750 million cash infusion days earlier. The money was part of Better.com going public, according to TechCrunch, and would put Better.com’s balance sheet at $1 billion.
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“Having to conduct layoffs is gut wrenching, especially this time of year, 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 company’s chief financial officer Kevin Ryan said in a statement to CNN.
Initially Better.com announced on Nov. 30 it would be getting cash from its backers sooner than expected. Aurora Acquisition Corp. and SoftBank decided to amend their financing agreement to give Better.com half of the $1.5 billion they committed immediately, instead of waiting until the deal closed.
Days later, reports of Garg firing employees on Zoom began circulating. According to NBC News, recordings of the meeting were posted on TikTok, where Garg can be seen speaking to the camera announcing the mass layoffs.
“I thought I was safe. I had perfect reviews and thought I was an integral part of the team. It’s a bummer, because I know I worked really hard to help build up that company, and it looks like I just wasted my time,” said a Better.com former employee to NBC.
Garg has a record of controversial behavior, with Forbes obtaining an email he sent to employees last year that said “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 was founded in 2014 by Garg and offers digital mortgage services. It has an implied valuation of $6.9 billion.
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