Linus Media Group in crosshairs

dada_dave

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So there’s too much to link to all of it and some of it’s on Twitter where the links won’t work anyway but LMG is in hot water.

Gamer’s Nexus did a long video on them and while I saw some disagreement on the severity or fairness of some of the criticisms in that video (not overall disagreement btw), new shit has come out this morning that is waaay worse. One of their former employees has called out their in office behavior as incredibly toxic and misogynistic - beyond being a pressure cooker where it is difficult if not impossible to do good work but one the ruins mental health and where (male) (upper-)managers see fit to take advantage of (female) employees. Some of the things she alleges are really quite bad, everything from verbal sexual harassment to full on groping with upper management not caring or punishing those who speak out. Even the terms of her employment were changed in between her getting the job (which was a story in and of itself) and her coming into the office to start work.
 
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Joelist

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I am not a fan of Linus and dislike his Tech Tips show, but we need to hold our slings and arrows until Linus speaks and until there is more information - accusations like this if true are really bad news but have also sometimes turned out false in the past so fairness dictates we wait on judgment.
 

dada_dave

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I am not a fan of Linus and dislike his Tech Tips show, but we need to hold our slings and arrows until Linus speaks and until there is more information - accusations like this if true are really bad news but have also sometimes turned out false in the past so fairness dictates we wait on judgment.
Of course, these are allegations, hence “she alleges”. Unfortunately they do dovetail with the pressure cooker environment that others have commented on and LMG’s apology video (made in response to the things brought up by Gamer’s Nexus before Madison’s additional accusations*) admits they’ve made mistakes/promises to do better. So no I can’t personally speak to whether the worst of what’s being alleged is true, but things are clearly not well.

*I should clarify “before Madison’s recent public accusations”, apparently she earlier stated (some/all? of) these allegations on Glass Door anonymously at the time of her leaving, but has now done so publicly under her own name.

Edit: Also it has to be said that due to the seriousness of the accusations, LMG is unlikely to speak publicly on the matter unless under the advice of counsel (who will likely advise saying nothing or very little). Regardless of Madison’s inclination or resources to sue there are serious legal repercussions to any statements. The alleged pattern of behavior is one that states tend to find a legal interest in (see Activision-Blizzard and CA). If the allegations have any merit AND the new boss at LMG goes for transparency rather than coverup, then an outside investigator will probably be necessary. (Note I am not a lawyer/HR expert but this is what I’ve seen previously and the kinds of things I’ve seen recommended by people who are)
 
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dada_dave

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dada_dave

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Of course if her allegations are even half accurate then an internal investigation or proactively asking people to come forward is next to useless if not actively harmful. The people who would be running the internal investigation or that those affected would come to “proactively” are at the very least partially responsible for the described culture. Thus the only thing that really matters is who they hire for an external review and the thoroughness and independence/integrity of that review. Supposedly the newly hired CEO who is stepping into this mess is known as a really decent, fair guy. But we’ll see.
 

Nycturne

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Gamer’s Nexus did a long video on them and while I saw some disagreement on the severity or fairness of some of the criticisms in that video (not overall disagreement btw)

To be honest, all GN really did is demonstrate/confirm a pattern going back years that undermines any journalistic integrity LMG wants to claim. They are better taken as entertainment and any claims they make should be taken with a few grains of salt and verified with a third party. This is the same channel that took apart a Mac Pro back in 2019/2020 to show how you could upgrade it yourself, but utterly botched anything related to the CPU.

They dismantled the CPU retaining bracket from the back of the board, and while holding the pretty bog standard retaining bracket in their hand to pull the CPU off the heat sink, utterly missed what was right in front of them. Linus then proceeded to complain about the lack of a retaining bracket on the motherboard, and at the end of the video talked about a “proprietary” socket. Today, as then, there’s just waaaay too much shooting from the hip, and not enough pre-shooting research done, or even on-set presence of mind to be able to catch issues while shooting and adjust the script.

Their excuse was they simply dismantled it in the way iFixit did. No corrections issued. Linus’ behavior is the same today as it was when I started noticing the cracks, and it’s clear from his response to GN’s coverage.

, new shit has come out this morning that is waaay worse. One of their former employees has called out their in office behavior as incredibly toxic and misogynistic - beyond being a pressure cooker where it is difficult if not impossible to do good work but one the ruins mental health and where (male) (upper-)managers see fit to take advantage of (female) employees. Some of the things she alleges are really quite bad, everything from verbal sexual harassment to full on groping with upper management not caring or punishing those who speak out. Even the terms of her employment were changed in between her getting the job (which was a story in and of itself) and her coming into the office to start work.

Based on how Linus attempts to shield and deflect criticism instead of taking a breath speaks volumes. It would not surprise me one bit if these allegations turn out to be 100% accurate. I’ve dealt with too many workplace horror stories where the guy in charge of the office culture behaved like Linus.
 

dada_dave

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To be honest, all GN really did is demonstrate/confirm a pattern going back years that undermines any journalistic integrity LMG wants to claim. They are better taken as entertainment and any claims they make should be taken with a few grains of salt and verified with a third party. This is the same channel that took apart a Mac Pro back in 2019/2020 to show how you could upgrade it yourself, but utterly botched anything related to the CPU.

They dismantled the CPU retaining bracket from the back of the board, and while holding the pretty bog standard retaining bracket in their hand to pull the CPU off the heat sink, utterly missed what was right in front of them. Linus then proceeded to complain about the lack of a retaining bracket on the motherboard, and at the end of the video talked about a “proprietary” socket. Today, as then, there’s just waaaay too much shooting from the hip, and not enough pre-shooting research done, or even on-set presence of mind to be able to catch issues while shooting and adjust the script.

Their excuse was they simply dismantled it in the way iFixit did. No corrections issued. Linus’ behavior is the same today as it was when I started noticing the cracks, and it’s clear from his response to GN’s coverage.



Based on how Linus attempts to shield and deflect criticism instead of taking a breath speaks volumes. It would not surprise me one bit if these allegations turn out to be 100% accurate. I’ve dealt with too many workplace horror stories where the guy in charge of the office culture behaved like Linus.
From following him on Twitter, I knew this was coming which is why I prefaced that not everyone was on board with every one of GN’s points, but Ian Cutress just posted his response video. It’s quite long and he goes through both LMG and GN and discusses what his views are. I thought there were a number of good points: GN’s own claims of objectivity are undercut by subjective, often sniping comments made without data support including in their LMG video - a behavior which I complained about in a different video where for no reason Steve made a sniping comment about Apple in the context of gamer’s brand motherboards preferring form over function. In the LMG video Steve connects the fact that he feels Linus/LMG were soft on Asus with Asus being a sponsor of LTT’s conference and LTT hiring a former Asus “marketing executive” to run their labs (Ian points out that former marketing executive is none other than the guy who held his, Ian’s, previous job at Anandtech benchmarking motherboards and is considered one of the best to ever do it.).

That said I don’t think Ian disagrees with the overall thesis that some of these are real problems (in fact in some ways Ian thinks the outward facing problems are indicative of more structural problems beyond just a high pressure, speed focused culture that Steve focused on - as in LMG’s problems extend beyond just a culture of pumping out content at any cost/speed). I do think Ian could’ve done a better job linking some of the Madison allegations to that pressure cooker culture as some of the factors she brought can be linked directly to an organization trying to grow way too fast on the backs of lower level people with poor management of that growth. Not for nothing but obviously a misogynistic attitude layered on top of that would badly accentuate that negative environment for a low level female employee. I also do disagree with Ian on a couple of other minor points and I feel like he responded more to Steve’s video than to LMG’s issues which I don’t think is the right structure. However overall I agree with Ian that while the GN video made valid points (some unfortunately all the more valid with what we heard afterwards from Madison) but there are ego and gate keeping issues within their video and some unnecessary comments insinuating corrupting influence.

To the point about errors, Ian remarks: do enough reviews and shit happens and he listed a bunch of his own major fuck ups with the caveat that having largely worked in “print” it was easier to fix post launch than video. I do understand what he’s saying and agree to some extent, but when mistakes are paired with “infotainment snark” that we get in tech journalism a lot and especially from LMG, well … live by the snark die by the snark? And even Ian agreed that some of these errors once caught should’ve resulted in reshoots regardless of how much harder that is in a large company vs a small team.

I had high hopes for LTT Labs, not because I felt LTT had such a Stirling reputation (occasionally they do good work but are largely tech entertainment) but because a large, well resourced lab dedicated to public facing reviews could really be game changing for the industry and they seem to really want to pursue that avenue. Obviously management issues and HR issues and cultural issues and QA issues are all going to have to be solved first. Who knows what we’ll have by the end of that process but I’ll be blunt: it’s almost certainly better that Linus is no longer at the helm. People rag on corporate mentality and middle management but LMG badly needs some of both. There’s a reason those creep in as organizations grow and it isn’t all just bloat.
 
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Aaronage

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I haven’t watched any LMG or Gamers Nexus content for years because they’re predominantly interested in stoking pointless drama. It’s just painfully dull.
 

Nycturne

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To the point about errors, Ian remarks: do enough reviews and shit happens and he listed a bunch of his own major fuck ups with the caveat that having largely worked in “print” it was easier to fix post launch than video. I do understand what he’s saying and agree to some extent, but when mistakes are paired with “infotainment snark” that we get in tech journalism a lot and especially from LMG, well … live by the snark die by the snark? And even Ian agreed that some of these errors once caught should’ve resulted in reshoots regardless of how much harder that is in a large company vs a small team.

And this is really the crux of my issues with LMG. It’s the fact that they do dumb nonsense, and then double down on it, repeatedly. Often enough that it’s clear that Linus and/or upper management can’t see why this behavior isn’t constructive, or simply don’t care because they’ve not been materially punished for it. It’s not a “whoops, here’s the corrected information”, it’s “I can’t be bothered to learn from this, go away.” It’s the cavalier attitude taken towards criticism that really soured me on them more than anything else.

On the ASUS side, while I think ASUS can in fact eff off with their nonsense, I’m not really invested too much in what you suggest is cross-channel drama. But I would be wary of a channel that has too close ties to a sponsor such that they would want to avoid losing that money. It takes care to walk the tight-rope that is reviewing products from a company that also puts food on your table. Care that LMG seemingly demonstrates it doesn’t take or want to take.

The SA allegations are serious because of the harm done to victims, but at the same time, I tend go “yeah, probably, seeing all the other nonsense.” Their current culture is one of not taking care of the details. So it doesn’t surprise me that the pattern repeated all over the industry is repeated here. Sexism and gaming have become a real problem over the years.

I had high hopes for LTT Labs, not because I felt LTT had such a Stirling reputation (occasionally they do good work but are largely tech entertainment) but because a large, well resourced lab dedicated to public facing reviews could really be game changing for the industry and they seem to really want to pursue that avenue. Obviously management issues and HR issues and cultural issues and QA issues are all going to have to be solved first. Who knows what we’ll have by the end of that process but I’ll be blunt: it’s almost certainly better that Linus is no longer at the helm. People rag on corporate mentality and middle management but LMG badly needs some of both. There’s a reason those creep in as organizations grow and it isn’t all just bloat.

Oh, I agree that LMG needs more corporate mentality but it also needs someone to set the corporate culture that isn’t actively undermining the efforts of the person in charge of fixing things. I think this is really where things go bad because you have a founder that is working against the best long-term interests, because of his ego. Again, the number of workplace horror stories I’ve run into over the years tend to revolve around figures like Linus.

I’m not trying to say Linus is a terrible person, but his ego and inability to take that ego out of the picture when criticism is leveled at his baby (LMG) does so much damage to orgs. And I would not be surprised if he winds up being at the center of it all if LMG can’t get past this and fails. Because that’s precisely where he wants to be: at the center of it all.
 
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