Vishal Garg, CEO of mortgage lender startup Better.com, told 900 employees he was laying them off in a brutal and bizarre one-way video chat announcement on Thursday.“This is the second time in my career I’m doing this and I do not want to do this. The last time I did it, I cried; this time I hope to be stronger,” Garg says early in the video, before noting that he is laying off "about" 15 percent of the company’s workforce just before the holidays. More than a minute into the call, Garg says, “If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off. Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.”
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“Fuck you, dude,” someone who is seemingly a Better.com employee who recorded the video and uploaded it to YouTube says as he learns this news. A spokesperson for Better.com told Motherboard that the company actually laid off 9 percent of its employees, not 15 percent of them. “Having to conduct layoffs is gut-wrenching, especially this time of year, however a fortress balance sheet and a reduced and focused workforce together set us up to play offense going into a radically evolving homeownership market," Kevin Ryan, Better.com's CFO, said in a statement.Garg says in the video that he wishes that the company “was thriving as enthusiastically as we were at the beginning of this year, but that that’s not the case.” He then adds that he is sure that laid-off employees “will leave us and be more successful, more fortunate, and luckier in your next endeavor. I wish you all the best of luck.”Do you work at Better.com or were you just laid off? You can contact reporter Jason Koebler on Signal at 202-505-1702Better.com is a buzzy, internet-based mortgage-lending startup that is expected to go public soon. It recently got a $750 million investment from its backers, which include SoftBank. Garg is a billionaire with an, uhh, controversial management style.There is, of course, no good way to lay people off, but what makes this video particularly brutal is Garg's focus on his own feelings, rather than those of his employees; his repeated invoking of laid-off employees’ bad "luck"; and, most strikingly, that it has the look and feel of an “if you’re watching this, I’m already dead” video. The twist, of course, is that Garg is fine and his employees are not.