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Vishal Garg, the Better.com founder, who fired roughly 900 of his workers via Zoom last month and then took “time off,” is returning to his position as the head of his mortgage lending company.
“As you know, Better’s C.E.O. Vishal Garg has been taking a break from his full-time duties to reflect on his leadership, reconnect with the values that make Better great and work closely with an executive coach,” Better.com’s board said on Tuesday in an email to the staff, which was reviewed by The New York Times. “We are 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 pivotal time.”
Better.com, which is backed by SoftBank and was ranked last year as LinkedIn’s top start-up, had announced last month that Mr. Garg would take time off from his leadership role after he faced a backlash over his firing of about 9 percent of his staff in a Zoom call. Several top employees resigned shortly afterward.
“If you’re on this call you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off,” Mr. Garg told his workers, in a recording later shared widely online. “Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.”
Better.com has since conducted a “thorough, independent” review of its culture, according to the board’s memo on Tuesday. The review was led by Anthony Barkow, a partner at the law firm Jenner & Block and a former federal prosecutor.
As a result of that investigation, the company is working to expand its leadership by recruiting a new chairman for the board, a president and a chief human resources officer. In the meantime, a former McKinsey senior partner, Richard Benson-Armer, will serve as interim head of human resources, and the company’s chief financial officer, Kevin Ryan, will serve as interim president. Two members of the board also recently resigned, but not “because of any disagreement with Better,” according to the memo.
The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Some of the additional measures the company announced Tuesday include a training program on building “a respectful workplace” and a new ethics and compliance committee, reporting directly to the board.
Christian Chapman, an underwriting trainer who was fired last month, said he saw Mr. Garg’s return to company leadership as inevitable. He added that he hoped to see the company commit to building a healthier culture.
“Business is people, product and processes,” Mr. Chapman said. “I think Vishal should develop the third leg of business, which is the people.”