Billion-dollar company ‘killed’ 900 employees after 3 minutes of Zoom meeting: Insider’s experience of meeting ‘hell’

Christian Chapman, a former underwriter at Better.com – a company specializing in mortgage lending – thought he was just attending another regular Zoom meeting with CEO Vishal Garg. But unexpectedly, it was also his last meeting, as an employee of this company.

“If you have to attend this meeting, you are one of the unfortunate people who have to quit,” – CEO Garg said during a three-minute meeting on December 1. He started immediately, without waiting for anyone. “Your role with this company will end, the decision effective immediately.”

The meeting ended quickly, leaving Chapman in a state of bewilderment. As the financial breadwinner of his family of seven, being fired left him dumbfounded. Although he made his boss angry many times, this move was really unexpected.

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Vishal Garg – CEO of Better.com, a mortgage lender that just laid off 900 employees at once

Chapman started sending messages to the company’s internal channel when his computer screen suddenly went black – he lost all access to his computer, phone, email, and chat channel. He had to use Facebook’s Messenger to communicate with colleagues.

Although Garg promised an email from HR about the decision, access to the mailbox was revoked. A few hours later, Chapman received a letter of dismissal in a personal email.

“What a freak moment. It was the one I didn’t think would happen the most,” – he shared.

900 people fly their seats from the chaotic “financial unicorn”

According to records, the company laid off up to 900 employees after a few minutes – equivalent to 9% of the total number of employees. This is a very surprising thing, when Better.com is valued at $ 6.9 billion, and is considered a unicorn in the financial industry. The company itself also ranks first in LinkedIn’s top successful startups in 2021 and 2020.

Not yet. In May 2021, Better.com announced it would go public (IPO) through a special merger. Prior to the listing date, the company even received $750 million in cash under a deal with investors. Meaning, this company owns up to 1 billion dollars in cash.

But that much money can’t help the company fill in the too large market of the mortgage lending industry.

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CEO Garg is considered a rather chaotic boss

CEO Garg then accused the fired employees of “stealing” from their own colleagues and customers, because they were too unproductive and only worked two hours a day. Reply CNN, the employees who were fired were stunned because the decision happened so suddenly. But in fact, Garg’s way of acting has been controversial before, as in an email he sent to an employee revealed in Forbes in 2020.

“You’re damn slow, like some stupid dolphin. So stop. Stop now. You’re embarrassing me.” – quote from Garg’s email, all capital letters.

“I got a promotion, and then he (CEO Garg) stood there and acted like everyone was being lazy or stealing company time,” – another unnamed former employee who was rewarded for performance at Better.com. “A mess. I’d rather go bankrupt than try to figure out what’s going on in his head.”

Chapman, who has worked in the mortgage industry for the past 20 years, also said that he has regularly received positive reviews from management recently. And now, he flies the chair.

According to employees, the working environment at Better.com is chaotic. There’s no denying that there are a lot of benefits, but it’s hard to stand the CEO often “throwing bombs” and swearing at online meetings.

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“From the very first meeting I realized I had to turn off the speakers and put on headphones, because my five kids couldn’t hear the words,” Chapman commented.

Chapman said he had been fired four times at many different companies, but never was “horrible and unfriendly” like that.

“I tried to look at the positive side, but it’s not,” – he shared. “Things didn’t go as planned, and more drastic action was needed on my part.”

In fact, the mortgage industry is in trouble for a financial restructuring, after the pandemic sent mortgage rates to historic lows. Despite rising interest rates, growth is slowing.

Source: CNN

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