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Better.com CEO who fired 900 workers in Zoom call is reinstated as the mortgage lender’s top boss


The Better.com CEO who famously fired 900 employers over a Zoom call will resume his ‘full-time duties’ after taking ‘time off to reflect on his leadership.’ 

Vishal Garg, 43, will be returning as the CEO of Better.com after leaving in December. 

In a letter sent to employees on Tuesday, the CEO announced that he would be returning after time spent considering ‘the leader I wanted to be.’ 

‘I understand how hard these past few weeks have been. I am deeply sorry for the angst, distraction and embarrassment my actions have caused,’ he wrote in the email.

‘I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about where we are as a company and the type of leadership Better needs…and the leader I want to be.’ 

It is unclear when he will start his ‘full-time duties’ again, and what he has done during his time away to change his leadership style. But the company is planning to hire new executives.

Better.com’s controversial CEO Vishal Garg, 43, will be returning to work after taking time off to figure out the type of leader he wanted to be 

In a separate company-wide email, the company’s board told staff it is ‘confident in Vishal and in the changes he is committed to making to provide the type of leadership, focus, and vision that Better needs at this pivotal times,’ The New York Times, which obtained a copy of the email, reported. 

Since the heartless moment in early December when Garg fired 900 ‘unlucky’ employees over Zoom, Better.com has conducted a ‘thorough’ and ‘independent’ review of work culture, led by Anthony Barkow, a lawyer at Jenner and Block. 

The company is said to be working to expand its leadership by recruiting a new chairman of the board, a president and a chief human resources officer, according to The New York Times. 

Several higher-ups left their positions after the scandal broke over social media.  

Garg famously fired 900 'unlucky' employees over a Zoom call in December

Garg famously fired 900 ‘unlucky’ employees over a Zoom call in December 

Richard Benson-Armer, a former McKinsey senior partner, will serve as the company’s interim chief of human resources. It is unclear when exactly he joined the Better team. Meanwhile, Kevin Ryan, the company’s CFO, also will continue to serve as interim CEO until Garg returns to work. 

The company also is implementing a training program to build ‘a respectful workplace’ that will focus on new ethics and designing a healthier culture. 

‘Business is people, product and processes,’ Christian Chapman, who was fired last month, told The New York Times. ‘I think Vishal should develop the third leg of business, which is the people.’ 

Kevin Ryan, the CFO, has been the temporary CEO in Garg's absence and will continue to do so until his return

Kevin Ryan, the CFO, has been the temporary CEO in Garg’s absence and will continue to do so until his return 

Garg fired nine per cent of his staff over a Zoom call in December, telling employees that they were ‘part of the unlucky group’. 

‘If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off,’ he said on the December call. ‘Your employment here is terminated, effective immediately.’  

Following the layoffs, he struck an aggressive tone where he accused employees of stealing time and told remaining staff they will not be allowed to fail twice. 

‘You will be encouraged to fail once. But not allowed to fail twice. Not meeting deadlines will not be acceptable,’ he said in a digital town hall in December.

Then in a blog post, he attacked the fired employees for being so ‘lazy’ they effectively ‘stole’ from customers. 

The father-of-three wrote on professional network Blind: ‘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 that pay our bills. Get educated,’ he had wrote. 

He later apologized for his actions, issuing a groveling apology for his actions as CEO and took a leave of absence to ‘reflect on his leadership.’

‘I want to apologize for the way I handled the layoffs last week,’ Garg wrote in a letter addressed to employees and later posted on the company’s website in December. 

‘I failed to show the appropriate amount of respect and appreciation for the individuals who were affected and for their contributions to Better.

‘I own the decision to do the layoffs, but in communicating it I blundered the execution. In doing so, I embarrassed you,’ he added.   

His letter continued: ‘I realize that the way I communicated this news made a difficult situation worse. I am deeply sorry and am committed to learning from this situation and doing more to be the leader that you expect me to be.

Tanya Gillogley, the head of PR, has quit after the Zoom firing

Melanie Hahn, head of marketing, also quit

Tanya Gillogley (left), the head of PR, and marketing chief Melanie Hahn (right) quit following the December 1 firings

The vice president of communications, Patrick Lenihan, also resigned after the December 1 Zoom call

The vice president of communications, Patrick Lenihan, also resigned after the December 1 Zoom call

‘At Better, your dedication, focus and expertise are essential in the vital work we are doing to unlock the value, joy and opportunity of homeownership for our customers across the country.

‘I couldn’t be more grateful for all you are accomplishing for the customers we serve. We will talk more at our upcoming All Hands meeting about what to expect for the year ahead. I hope you’ll join me for the discussion.

‘I believe in you, I believe in Better, and I believe that working together we can make homeownership better together,’ he concluded. 

Garg got rid of the company’s entire diversity, equity and inclusion team, which deals with complaints about racism and sexism in the workplace and three senior executives have since voluntarily resigned.

The head of public relations, Tanya Gillogley; head of marketing, Melanie Hahn; and vice president of communications, Patrick Lenihan have all handed in their resignations, according to Insider.      

In his three-minute call where he fired the employees, he said that the ‘market has changed’ – meaning savage cuts to the $7billion company’s workforce were needed to avert disaster. 

The firings came despite a $750million cash infusion the mortgage company received in December. 

The boss also said market efficiency, performance, and productivity were to blame for the firings, adding that it was necessary for the company to ‘move in order to survive.’ 

He later apologized in an email to staff, admitting he ‘failed to show the appropriate amount of respect and appreciation for individuals who are affected and for their contributions to Better.’

DailyMail.com has contacted Better.com for comment.  



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