Vishal Garg, the CEO of Better.com, is making a comeback, just one month after being forced to take administrative leave for axing 900 staffers in a webinar and then telling remaining staffers they were lazy thieves.
According to an internal email sent by the company’s board of directors to employees and viewed by HousingWire, after Garg took the time to “reflect on his leadership duties [and] reconnect with the values that make Better great” the board has decided that the CEO is ready to resume his duties.
His start date was not disclosed in the memo, though the board did note that Garg will send an email “soon” with some of his thoughts.
“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,” the board’s letter read.
The announcement comes after Garg was temporarily sidelined from the digital mortgage lender in early December for unceremoniously laying off 900 employees in the span of three minutes via a monotone Skype call.
A media frenzy followed, with stakeholders calling Garg’s way of firing his employees right before the Christmas holidays heartless. A slew of executives also opted to leave the company in reaction to the debacle.
In turn, Better’s board members moved to suspend the CEO and said that it had engaged an independent third-party firm to do a leadership and cultural assessment to “build a long-term sustainable and positive culture at Better.”
In the letter circulated throughout the company yesterday, the board noted that following the culture review, led by Anthony Barkow, a partner at the law firm Jenner & Block, it wants to ensure an inclusive and respectful culture “that is always consistent with our values” and so another independent assessment of the company’s culture will take place in six months.
In addition, Better.com, which is backed by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, will be implementing a company-wide training program on ensuring a respectful workplace, the letter said.
The Daily Beast first reported Garg’s return as CEO.
Apart from reinstating Garg, who once threatened to burn a business partner alive, the memo noted that there are three new job openings at Better including president, chief human resources officers, and chairman for Better’s board of directors. Kevin Ryan, the CFO who is currently leading the digital lender, will fill the president role on an interim basis.
The memo also brings changes in the board of directors. Raj Date and Dinesh Chopra, allies of Garg, have resigned. The letter remarked that it was not because of disagreements with Better.com.
Meanwhile, Prabhu Narasimhan, chief investment officer of Aurora Acquisition, will join the board at closing of the SPAC. Aurora will also nominate an additional director to the board after the deal closes.
The company, which was set to go public via SPAC in the fourth quarter of 2021, pushed back its public debut.
A document filed by Aurora Acquisition Corp. with the Securities and Exchange Commission in late December said that it will keep the proposed merger with the digital mortgage lender.
“Aurora remains confident in Better and the proposed transaction,” the company said in the document.