Better.com CEO Matt Barrie did not confirm or deny being fired, in his remarks during the company’s second quarter earnings conference call on Wednesday. However, when pressed by an analyst about his long-planned vacation, the company’s CEO said he was “taking time off.”
Barrie stepped down as CEO of the American e-commerce portal on Friday in the wake of growing backlash over comments he made on C.E.O. podcast Zoom with episode 3. Episodes 1 and 2 were released on March 29 and 30, respectively. Barrie called women on Zoom too soft to succeed in business and employees at the company were dismayed to find they had been fired for poor sales figures rather than a lack of business initiatives. Earlier this week, both Barrie and Better.com CEO Jason Pellegrino sent letters of apology to affected workers.
As one of its products, Zoom provides inexpensive, on-demand short-term accommodation, and has more than 100,000 locations listed on the platform. As chairman of Zoom, Barrie spoke in favor of the product’s position as a primary provider of on-demand on-demand mid-market locations.
“For example, let’s take a case of a female CEO in the software and technology industry that wants to take a month off to have a baby,” Barrie said during the podcast in reference to the hypothetical example. “She also knows that a company she works for can provide her with another job — for a month — in exchange for letting her come off the job. Because if she didn’t come off the job, and they didn’t keep her employed, she would face professional repercussions. So she’s either got to come off the job, she’s got to find another job, or she’s got to consider an offer for an extra job … What we tried to do was say, well, we can offer that job to this person who is looking for a short-term job. We allow her to come off the job for a short period of time. It’s good for us. It’s good for her, and it’s good for the business.”
The comments touched off a firestorm on social media with many commenting on Zoom’s policies while others hailed the podcast as a solution to a mass turnover problem in the United States workplace.
For his part, Barrie admitted on the earnings call Wednesday that he erred in doing so.
“Clearly I did make an error in allowing myself to be featured on that podcast in that way, and I understand why people were upset, and I do want to reiterate, as it was in a letter I wrote earlier in the week, that I am sorry for the people that felt offended and feel really disappointed in me. And I take it very seriously,” Barrie said.
Indeed, it appears that Barrie has already taken a leave of absence. The CEO indicated to an analyst that he was absent for two weeks before returning to the office on Tuesday.
As for what’s next for the company and the marketplace, Pellegrino said the company’s first product, a short-term rentals platform for short-term second homes, is one step closer to releasing an “oasis” platform for those seeking to lower their rent costs. The company is also looking at adding locations in some of the biggest cities in the world and announcing expansion plans for Berlin, London, London, and Germany during the next three months.