Tech Startup Valued at $7 Billion Lays Off Hundreds of Employees on Zoom

online meeting
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Not long after receiving a $750 million cash infusion, an online startup valued at $7 billion laid off hundreds of workers in a way many described as harsh.

Better.com, which is a digital mortgage lender with offices located in Oakland, laid off 900 workers amid the Christmas season during a Zoom meeting, SF Gate reported Friday.

Only the people being laid off were invited on the call and it was a major shift for the company that announced it was going public in previous months.

“I come to you with not great news,” CEO Vishal Garg told viewers in the clip, which has been posted on TikTok and YouTube. “The market has changed, as you know, and we have to move with it in order to survive.”

“This isn’t news you’re gonna wanna hear, but ultimately it was my decision and I wanted you to hear it from me,” he continued. “The last time I did this, I cried. This time, I hope to be stronger.”

He got back on message a few moments later, informing those on the call they were the ones being laid off.

Video footage posted Saturday on YouTube appeared to show the CEO during the meeting:

A company spokesperson clarified to SF Gate that 9 percent of its workers were laid off, however, the discrepancy with Garg and the company’s official percentage was unclear, according to the outlet.

“If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group being laid off,” Garg explained while citing market efficiency, performances, and productivity among the reasons for the decision.

The SF Gate report continued:

But Better.com recently received a substantial cash infusion from its backers. Chief Financial Officer Kevin Ryan said in an internal email, which TechCrunch obtained, that the firm would have “$1 billion of cash on the company’s balance sheet,” thanks to SoftBank and Aurora Acquisition.

In addition, the company reportedly hired 7,000 employees during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ryan noted in a statement to SF Gate that “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.”

Better.com said its mission was to make homeownership simpler, faster, and more accessible for Americans.

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