Better.com CEO returns to role after Zoom layoffs controversy

Vishal Garg resuming as company head after independent review

National /
Jan.January 19, 2022 10:15 AM

A photo illustration of Vishal Garg, chief executive officer, Better.com (Better.com, iStock)

Better.com CEO Vishal Garg has returned to his post as head of the digital mortgage company after more than a month away.

The company’s board emailed staff on Tuesday to announce Garg is resuming his role, The New York Times reported. The chief executive’s return comes after he laid off roughly 900 employees in a Zoom call, triggering backlash and an independent review led by Anthony Barkow, a partner at the Jenner & Block law firm.

“As you know, Better’s C.E.O. Vishal Garg has been taking a break from his full-time duties to reflect on his leadership, reconnect with the values that make Better great and work closely with an executive coach,” the company’s board wrote to staff, according to the Times. “We are 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 time.”

The company is taking additional steps following the review, including seeking a new chairman for the board, president and chief human resources officer, according to the Times. The memo to staff also reportedly detailed plans of a training program for “a respectful workplace” and the formation of an ethics and compliance committee.

CFO Kevin Ryan assumed day-to-day operations in mid-December upon the digital mortgage company’s announcement that its chief executive would take time off.

Garg apologized after he announced the firing of more than 900 employees over Zoom and accused some of being unproductive in an anonymous online post. He previously confirmed to Fortune he was behind the blog post, which accused hundreds of fired employees of stealing company time.

The incident was the latest in the chief executive’s previous controversies. In 2020, Forbes reported he was accused of improper management of funds at past startups, allegedly using some of those funds to start Better.com in 2016. He has also been blamed for creating a hostile work environment.

In early 2021, the mortgage lending startup’s valuation swelled to $6 billion after SoftBank made a $500 million investment. The Wall Street Journal reported in May the company plans to go public through a SPAC merger with Aurora Acquisition Corp.

[NYT] — Holden Walter-Warner





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