After a month long "break, ”Better.com CEO Vishal Garg is back at the helm of the mortgage technology company he co-founded in 2016, according to an internal memo circulating today that has been shared with TechCrunch.
In the memo, the Better board said it "is moving forward with a strong, dynamic CEO leadership."
The move comes just weeks after the company announced it was laying off 900 people, or about 9% of its staff, via a Zoom meeting with the affected employees, which drew widespread criticism from employees and even random observers. In the 10 days after the meeting took place, the company's reputation got a very public beating, with senior communications and PR executives resigning, memes by Garg circulating on TikTok and the CEO sending out a so-called excuse for his behavior.
The company hired a crisis firm in the wake of the falsified layoffs, and according to the board's internal memo, Better will "implement a company-wide training program to ensure a respectful workplace."
The board also said that during this holiday, Garg had worked closely with an executive coach so he could "reconnect with the values that make Better great."
Following these discussions, direct input from an independent culture review and some organizational changes, the board said Garg would officially resume his full-time duties as CEO.
In the memo, the board said it was "confident in Vishal and in the changes he is committed to making to provide the type of leadership, focus and vision that Better needs at this crucial time."
Last month, it was a surprise to many that Garg was not asked to resign permanently. Some assumed he had super-vote shares and thus could vote to keep himself in the role of CEO despite what others voted for. But after digging in S-4 filed by Better.com's SPAC partner, Aurora Acquisition Corp. in November, TechCrunch's own Alex Wilhelm and I realized it is not the case.
While the dismissal of employees during Zoom calls is hardly unheard of as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced more telework, Varg was considered harsh and numb in his delivery. As we have previously reported, it did not help that he had also previously sent emails to his employees in which he scolded them with insults. Last year, Forbes revealed the contents of an email to employees from Garg: “HELLO - WAKE UP BETTER TEAM. You are TOO AMAZINGLY SLOW. You are a bunch of STUPID DOLPHINS and ... STUPID DOLPHINS are caught in nets and eaten by sharks. SO STOP IT. STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. YOU GIVE ME FLOVER. "
Garg had also recently accused "at least 250" laid off employees of stealing from the company and customers by working only two hours a day
Better.com employees are reportedly not at all happy that Garg is not being asked to resign from his role as CEO, with a source telling TechCrunch that "everyone is sad and many people have already resigned or is planning to do so. "