Who is Vishal Garg, president of a company that laid off 900 employees for Zoom

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Who is Vishal Garg, president of a company that laid off 900 employees for Zoom

The president of an American company was criticized after firing about 900 of his employees in a single meeting via Zoom.

“If you’re on this conference call, you’re part of the unlucky group that’s being fired,” said Vishal Garg, CEO of Better.com, at the meeting, which later went viral on social media.

The initiative generated controversy and questioning among those who believe that the company used an “unethical”, “hard” and “cold” method to terminate its employees’ contracts, especially on the eve of Christmas.

“Last time I did [isso], I cried,” Garg told the team during the video call.

The number of dismissed employees represents 15% of the company’s payroll.

The executive explained that behind the decision are “the performance and productivity of the team”, in addition to “changes in the market”.

He did not mention, however, the $750 million (£4.2 billion) capital injection that Better.com received from investors last week.

A controversial manager

Born in India, Vishal Garg, 43, moved to New York with his family when he was seven.

He is currently the CEO of Better.com, a US mortgage company that aims to use technology to make the property purchase process “faster and more efficient”.

Founded by Garg in 2015, the company is backed by Japanese conglomerate Softbank and is currently valued at around $6 billion (R$34 billion).

Garg’s management style has been criticized before, especially after an email he sent to the team and was obtained by Forbes magazine last year.

In the e-mail, Garg wrote, “You guys are VERY SLOW. You’re a bunch of STUPID DOLPHINS…JUST STOP. STOP. STOP RIGHT NOW. YOU’RE EMBARRASSING ME.”

After news of the mass layoff, Fortune magazine confirmed that Garg was the author of an anonymous blog post in which he accused employees he had fired of “stealing” colleagues and clients as unproductive.

In the text, the executive also stated that they worked only two hours a day, while claiming to work eight hours or more.

But the controversy surrounding Garg goes beyond controversial conduct with its employees. He is also the target of allegations of fraud and financial mismanagement.

According to Forbes magazine, ongoing lawsuits accuse Garg or entities he controls of improper and even fraudulent activity in two previous ventures and misappropriation of “tens of millions of dollars.”

According to the report, one of the lawsuits was filed by his former partner and friend from college, Raza Khan, who accuses him of improperly transferring US$ 3 million (R$ 17 million) from a software company they both opened together. to your personal bank account and then have used the allegedly stolen technology to help build Better.com.

Also according to Forbes, the executive denies the accusations and is fighting back with a lawsuit, in a court battle that has dragged on for nearly a decade.

The dispute is so fierce that Garg is said to have threatened in one of the depositions “to wire (the ex-friend) against the f*** of a wall and burn him alive.” Later, however, he would have apologized for the statement.

“We cannot comment on ongoing lawsuits, but we are confident that these allegations are unfounded,” a Better.com spokesman would have said, according to Forbes.

The mass layoff announcement

“Hello everyone, thanks for coming. I don’t come to you with good news. The market has changed, as you know, and we have to move on to survive so that we can continue to thrive and fulfill our mission.

“It’s not news you’ll want to hear, but in the end it was my decision, and I wanted you to hear it from me. It was a very, very challenging decision to make. It’s the second time in my career that I’ve been making that, and I don’t want to do that. The last time I did, I cried. This time, I hope to be stronger. But we’re laying off about 15% of the company for [uma série de] reasons: the market, efficiency, performance and productivity.”

“If you’re on this conference call, you’re part of the unlucky group being fired. Your contract here has been terminated. Effective immediately.”

‘I failed’

Business Insider reported that after laying off the 900 employees, Garg held a subsequent meeting with the remaining employees.

The executive reportedly told the team that Better.com recruited a large number of employees during the pandemic, but that too many hires turned out to be a mistake.

“Today, we recognize that we over-hire and we hire the wrong people, and in doing that, we fail.”

“I failed. I haven’t been disciplined for the past 18 months.”

Better.com Chief Financial Officer Kevin Ryan said “having to drive layoffs is heartbreaking, especially at this time of year.”

But he added that having “a strong balance sheet and a small and concentrated workforce” was necessary to cope with the “radically evolving housing market.”

‘Empathy matters’

Ann Francke, executive director of the UK’s Chartered Management Institute, criticized the way employees were fired.

“Bad managers are going to fire people badly, either virtually or in person,” she told the BBC’s Today programme.

“But the callous way this (fire) was handled was made possible by the fact that it was done in this kind of virtual style and quite callous.”

“What we know in the pandemic is that empathy matters.”

For Francke, the way Garg has fired his team could have an effect on Better.com’s future business.

“This is a customer-facing business, they’re trying to offer people mortgages. I’m sure a lot of customers or potential customers are thinking, ‘Damn, if they treat their employees that way, I wonder how they treat their customers ‘.”

‘There are decent ways’

Gemma Dale, professor of employment law and business studies at Liverpool John Moores University in the UK, also believes that this “was not the way to lead an organization”.

A mass layoff like this would not be legal in the UK, she said.

“Just because you can do this in the US doesn’t mean you should,” he added. “There are ways to do these things that, even under difficult conditions, are empathetic and decent.”

In her opinion, this could hurt the company and its employees alike, as “existing employees will see how the company treats people as a sign of how it will treat them in the future.”

“There are proper channels for dealing with employees who do not meet required standards or workload, and while employers have the right to take appropriate action, there is a right way to do these things both morally and legally,” he says.

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