Better.com CEO “taking time off” after layoff saga
Board called recent events “very regrettable”
After a week of controversy, Better.com appears to have decided it’s better off without its embattled CEO — at least, temporarily.
The digital mortgage company’s board of directors said in an email Friday morning that Vishal Garg was “taking time off effective immediately,” according to a copy obtained by Vice. During his leave, CFO Kevin Ryan is assuming day-to-day operations.
In the email, the board called recent events “very regrettable” and said an independent third party is set to launch a “leadership and cultural assessment” in order to “build a long-term sustainable and positive culture” at the company.
Garg’s temporary departure is the latest fallout from a tumultuous week that began with a botched series of layoffs.
The chief executive apologized after he announced the firing of more than 900 employees over Zoom and accused them of being unproductive in an anonymous online post.
“I failed to show the appropriate amount of respect and appreciation for the individuals who were affected and for their contributions to Better,” Garg told employees in a leaked email. “I own the decision to do the layoffs, but in communicating it I blundered the execution. In doing so, I embarrassed you.”
Garg previously confirmed to Fortune that he was behind an anonymous post accusing hundreds of fired employees of stealing company time. The comments appeared to be a reaction to an internal review of employee data, which factored into the layoffs.
Garg — who says he came up with the idea for Better.com in 2012 after trying to buy a home in Manhattan — has a track record dotted with controversy.
Forbes reported last year he was accused of improper management of funds at past startups and allegedly used some of those funds to start Better.com in 2016. The CEO has also been blamed for creating a hostile work environment.
The valuation of the mortgage lending startup swelled to $6 billion earlier this year after a $500 million investment from SoftBank. The company has plans to go public through a SPAC merger with Aurora Acquisition Corp.
But the future of the company is murky as three executives who resigned in the wake of the layoffs saga, Insider reported.
[Vice] — Holden Walter-Warner