Vishal Garg, chief executive of Better.com, told staff members on a video call they were part of an “unlucky group” and their contracts would be terminated immediately. The CEO explained this was the second time in his career that he has been forced to deliver the horrible news and said last time he was brought to tears.
Mr Garg said 15 percent of staff at the US firm would be affected and cited problems with the housing market.
He also noted employee performance and productivity as another contributing factor.
Recordings of the message have since been leaked and sparked fury online.
Users on social media have branded the decision “cold”, “harsh” and “a horrible move”, especially as it comes in the lead up to Christmas.
He said: “I want to apologise for the way I handled the layoffs last week.
“I failed to show the appropriate amount of respect and appreciation for individuals who are affected and for their contributions to Better.
“I own the decision to do the layoffs, but in communicating I blundered the execution. In doing so, I embarrassed you.”