Better.com Chief Executive Officer Vishal Garg, who is currently making headlines after firing over 900 people before the holidays, has a history of fraud, mishandling finances and mistreating employees, according to reports.
The rundown: Garg, who founded Better.com in 2016, fired more than 900 employees in a Zoom call last Wednesday. The number represented 9% of the mortgage company’s workforce, according to CNN.
- “If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off,” Garg said on the call, which was later leaked on the internet. “Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.”
- The Indian American executive cited staff performance, productivity and market changes as reasons behind the mass termination, according to the BBC. He claimed it was the second time he did it in his career and that he cried the first time.
- The layoffs came just days after Better.com reportedly received $750 million in funding as a result of its plan to go public through a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC). The terminated employees will receive a month of severance pay, a month of full benefits and two months of cover-up.
A troubled history: The mass termination has uncorked a geyser of negative stories from Garg’s past. According to multiple reports, the 43-year-old has been accused of tax fraud, financial mismanagement and mistreatment of his employees.
- In 2013, Raza Khan, who co-founded a company called Education Investment and Finance Corporation (EIFC) with Garg, filed a lawsuit claiming that Garg had not been filing their business’ taxes, according to Forbes. He also accused him of improperly transferring $3 million from the company to his personal bank account.
- Garg, on the other hand, claimed that Khan stole $400,000. The allegation resulted in a deposition that saw Garg threaten to “staple [Mr. Khan] against a f*cking wall and burn him alive.”
- In August, the Daily Beast reported that Elana Knoller, one of Garg’s most “loyal lieutenants,” was given favorable stock options “potentially worth tens of millions of dollars.” Knoller also allegedly received at least $8,000 each month for two homes, as well as other perks.
- “It’s crazy,” a former senior employee told the Daily Beast. “It’s like a handout. The whole point of options is to incentivize four years of work. This is like handing her cash.”
- Forbes also obtained an email displaying Garg’s offensive language toward employees. “You are TOO DAMN SLOW. You are a bunch of DUMB DOLPHINS and…DUMB DOLPHINS get caught in nets and eaten by sharks. SO STOP IT. STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. YOU ARE EMBARRASSING ME,” Garg wrote.
This was before he laid off 900 staff members accusing them of stealing from the company because they didn’t work hard enough pic.twitter.com/CDNtM1FHL4
— David Armano (@armano) December 6, 2021
Reactions: Garg’s most recent firings, coupled with these controversies from his past, have drawn massive criticism on social media. His Zoom call has already gone viral, with many calling out his lack of empathy.
- “Vishal Garg should be ashamed of himself. How can someone be so cold to terminate people right before the holidays?” asked one Twitter user, who also called the move “sad” and “disgusting.”
- Another user wrote, “Everyone understands needing to reduce staff and layoffs but the way you did this was heartless, cold and wrong. A true leader does not handle a situation as serious as this the way you did.”
- Rachel Suff, senior policy adviser on employee relations at the London-based Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), told BBC the situation faced by Better.com’s terminated employees would not happen in the U.K.. Under British law, employers must have a consultation period of at least 30 days, in which “people should be given the right phrasing, eased into it, given warning, prepared for the news and explained the reasons why,” she said.
Featured Image via Power of Banana