The CEO of online mortgage lender Better.com will be “taking time off” from his role after he abruptly fired more than 900 employees via a Zoom call last week, according to an email from the company’s board of directors to employees Friday.
Vishal Garg, who founded the company in 2016, told the employees on the call that they “are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off”.
After the mass layoffs, Garg accused the terminated employees of “stealing” from the company by being unproductive, according to Fortune, which confirmed that Garg was writing about the layoffs under an anonymous account on a professional network.
“You guys know that at least 250 of the people terminated were working an average of 2 hours a day while closing in 8 hours+ a day in the payroll system,” he wrote. “They were stealing from you and stealing from our customers who pay the bills that pay our bills.”
In an interview with Fortune, Garg said that he and his team reviewed individual employee productivity data, including missed telephone calls, the number of inbound and outbound calls and employees showing up late to meetings with customers.
Current employees reported that after Garg fired those workers, he held a companywide call about the layoffs and told the remaining employees that their productivity would be closely watched.
“His tone was extremely harsh and threatening,” an staff member told Fortune.
In their email to employees, which was obtained by Vice, the company’s board called the events “very regrettable” and said that the company has contracted a third-party firm to do a “leadership and cultural assessment”.
In an apology posted to the company’s website, Garg said that he “failed to show the appropriate amount of respect and appreciation for the individuals who were affected.”
“I own the decision to do the layoffs,” Garg said. “But in communicating it, I blundered the execution. In doing so, I embarrassed you.”