Digital mortgage company Better.com has sacked around 900 of its employees via an online Zoom meeting ahead of the Christmas holidays.
The firm’s chief executive Vishal Garg only invited employees that were about to lose their jobs to the call.
“I come to you with not great news,” he said. “The market has changed, as you know, and we have to move with it in order to survive.”
“If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off. Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.”
He added that he hoped the attendees would be “more successful, more fortunate, and luckier in your next endeavour.”
“The last time I did this, I cried,” Garg said in the video. “This time, I hope to be stronger.”
A recording of the meeting was later posted to TikTok, YouTube and Twitter. The move sparked outrage within the company, as well as online and on social media.
The CEO @ https://t.co/VNi1LcKgsg laying off 15% of workforce right before the holidays. Absolute horrible move on his part and making it all about himself. Hope those laid off bounce back quick! #better pic.twitter.com/7r6WGoTqoN
— Mo Stonks (@mgshuheb) December 4, 2021
One Twitter user wrote: "How selfish can he be?" while another said "And reasons like this is why you’ll see more people become start up entrepreneurs and not work for anyone."
Garg later reiterated his stance on a blogpost on Blind, saying he was cutting some staff for "stealing" through laziness.
"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 added.
The layoffs, which come just before Christmas, represent 15% of the company’s workforce.
According to its LinkedIn profile, Better.com, which is backed by Softbank, employs 835 people in Charlotte, 587 in Orange County, California, and 546 in the San Francisco Bay Area, with workers also based in New York City, Texas and India.
It came just days after the company received a $750m (£565m) cash infusion, according to Forbes. It is valued at $7bn.
In a brief statement to SFGate, finance chief Kevin Ryan defended the layoffs as painful but necessary.
“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,” he said.
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