- Steven Erquiza
CEO Mass Firing Workers in Zoom
A former underwriter at Better.com, Christian Chapman, was just logging into CEO Vishal Garg's town halls. He joined the Webinar, not knowing that it would be his last call as an employee of an online mortgage company.
Garg said, "If you are on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off," this was on a one-way webinar that lasted for 3 minutes. Garg started the moment the Webinar was on and did not wait for the workers to settle in. "Your employment here is terminated effective immediately."
The call ended immediately, leaving Christian Chapman shocked. The underwriter, which provided for his family of 7, was used to his boss's outbursts, but he did not expect this. Chapman began reaching out to company Slack channels asking what happened when his screen went black? He lost access to his company computer, email, phone and messaging. He had to resort to contacting his colleagues through Facebook Messenger.
Garg promised to make a follow-up email from HR, but the employee's access was terminated. Chapman did receive the follow-up email via his personal email hours later. Chapman said, "It was a surreal moment. It was one of those things that you don't believe it's going to happen," Chapman said.
The company laid off over 900 employees in those few minutes of the Webinar, or almost about 9% of the company's staff. Better.com is valued at $6.9 billion - earning the title unicorn status. The company ranked #1 on LinkedIn's Top Startups of 2020 and 2021. The Softbank-backed mortgage lender announced in May it was going to go public. According to TechCrunch, the day before the layoff happened, the firm announced it received $750 million in cash as part of an amended deal with its investors. That would mean Better has $1 billion in cash.
According to Fortune, Garg later accused the fired employees of "stealing" from their customers and colleagues by being lazy and only working 2 hrs a day. Several former employees interviewed by CNN Business said the staff was shocked by the CEO's remarks and sudden firing. But it was reported that Garg has been involved in controversy before, as evidence of an email sent to a staff that was obtained by Forbes in 2020: "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," Garb wrote.
One of the former employees said that "I got promoted, and then he's out there trying to portray everyone as lazy and stealing money." This employee recently won an award for his performance at the company. Chapman, who worked in the mortgage business for almost 20 yrs, said that he had recently completed a positive performance review call with his manager.