Gawker's new owners demand right to search journalists, ban encrypted email and institute dress code

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/08/20/gee-thanks-peter-thiel.html

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Heh I just left a position that had a strict dress code. Professional casual, but no tennis shoes, shorts, or T-Shirts. UNLESS those tennis shoes, shorts or T-Shirts cost $500, then it was ok. Then you were just the most fashionable mother fucker of the day. Needless to say the rest of the place was fairly dysfunctional too.

Oh and to be successful, you definitely had to be part of the bro culture they had going on. It was a pretty disgusting place to work.

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Not directly related to this, but looking at the original article, apparently the new owner promised no layoffs, went on to fire 25 people (including one of two women in high-level leadership (who was also the only PoC in the leadership)), then hired a succession of white men he used to work with named, no joke:

  • Tom Callahan
  • Paul Maidment
  • Bruce Rogers
  • Steve Thompson
  • Sean Flanagan
  • Lance Johnson

I have nothing inherently against people with these names, but if I had to pick of set of names for the most stereotypical C-level boys club, I couldn’t top this.

EDIT: Added last names, because they don’t help.

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Here’s are some of the things I don’t get about the folks who purchased the Gawker properties: what did they think they were buying? Is the goal to turn the sites into an anodyne Buzzfeed-esque site that mostly publishes listicles and press releases? Or is the long-term plan to go full Barstool bro where “stick to sprots” leaves plenty of room for a couple of slideshows a day featuring nice tits?

I thought it sounded like a pretty solid list for the rental house on Fire Island.

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Now that’s an Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking of a headline.

Most people have a dress-code of some sort in their workplace. It’s just a degree of how fucked up it is.

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What the fuck? Did they actually, explicitly say that, or was it implied, somehow? Either way, it makes mockery of having a dress code in the first place…

Private equity types buy a company but have NO IDEA how to run it? This is Sears writ small. Look for stock manipulation and self dealing as they run it into the ground. With journalists actually on the inside, it shouldn’t take too long before all that comes out.

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It was implied. It was a high stress place to work, with emphasis on not only doing well, but looking good while we were doing well. It was very disappointing to see the few that could afford to flout the rules do so because they had more money (or crushing debt). Oh wait, I forgot this is America, and that’s the status quo.

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Clock in at 5:29, clock out at 5:30. This sounds like seven levels of horrible. Sounds like they could use a mass walk-out. But I guess the failing upward bros will always stick around.

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the company circulated a draft staff handbook that included the right to search employees’ “personal vehicles, parcels, purses, handbags, backpacks, briefcases, lunch boxes” and to review employee emails, tweets, and communications.

It’s a little like a prison, and many private companies are tending this direction. Add that to the fact that public spaces are turning into surveillance zones, and you gotta start to wonder WTF is left for an average person that just wants to work a little bit and enjoy life. Fuck this shit!

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Sears was intentionally vulture capitalized illegally. They immediately started selling off the most profitable divisions to artificially enhance share prices so the majority stakeholder could sell off at a profit.

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Plus the open plan offices, where people don’t even have desks or drawers. A local branch of my bank went that way. Umm, sorry, treat your employees like that if you want, but as a customer I don’t want to deal with a teller at a table in the middle of a fishbowl.

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After Deadspin's Laura Wagner published an incredible, brave, detailed look at how her new private equity masters -- Jim Spanfeller/Great Hill Partners -- were running Gawker now that they'd acquired it from Univision, the company (now called "G/O Media") struck back.
Pedantry:

Great Hill Partners actually acquired "Gizmodo Media Group", not "Gawker". Gawker was the main blog of Nick Denton's Gawker Media, but Gawker got shut down in 2016. Gizmodo Media Group was created from Gawker Media's assets (including Gawker Media's other blogs, like Deadspin) in 2016 after Gawker Media went bankrupt due to the Hulk Hogan sex tape lawsuit. Gizmodo Media Group got picked up by Univision and was subsequently sold to Great Hill Partners dba G/O Media.

/ Pedantry (Hopefully I got that right :-)

Sigh, I hadn't seen that story. It makes me a lot more reluctant to spend time reading Gizmodo, Deadspin, etc. (ETA: correction)

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and institute dress code

What kind of f#cking animals would do such a thing? I axe you…

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It really does sound like something like that; I wonder if Peter Thiel is somehow involved in and/or connected to G/O Media…

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Agreed the anti-privacy policies are hot garbage, but the dress code—at least the part quoted—is perfectly reasonable and not “ridiculous” in the slightest. Nothing wrong with wanting a professional workforce that looks like they’re at work. People dressed in those items are just a hair away from walking around barefoot, and if that happened where I work I’d be forced to burn the place down.

Exactly.
Having to wear following a dress code or even an employer-given uniform it’s not a big problem.
If one works on public transportation or restaurants it’s normal to have to wear all the same dress.
An undertaker with a Sepultura t-shirt it’s not the best idea.

Controlling the employee private property of the employees is the big problem, I don’t understand why the have to search a car or a suitcase, if they have the suspicion than an employee is involved in criminal activities they must talk to the cops or to a judge. If they are scared of spies they have to use the same policy used on military bases, no personal electronic items allowed. But I think they don’t have the Minuteman launch codes to protect.

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A company I worked for had a policy of no personal electronic devices of any description, bags or coats/jackets in certain departments, which I had to adhere to, as I worked just about everywhere in the company.
As those particular departments handled personal data, cash, cheques, and credit card details, it was perfectly reasonable, as were the multiple cameras in those departments - one agency worker was spotted acting oddly, and was found with over £50 cash on her, that she’d stolen from envelopes that she was opening.
That cash was intended for the many charities that the company had as clients.
There was no dress code to speak of, although one person took exception to a tee shirt I wore once, which had the word ‘pornstar’ on the front, from a skate/surfwear company; I thought they were being petty, but I had to stop wearing it.

Between the bust-out artist/asset-stripping owners and Boomer boy’s club they installed in the executive suites, staff morale must be in the toilet over there. If I cared about journalism and worked there I’d be looking for the exits, too (I’d hope to go out with a bang like Megan Greenwell did).

I’m sure he’s moved on to other awful projects. That thin-skinned vampire completed his well-funded and pissy little personal vendetta against Denton, the staff members in question, and the Gawker brand years ago – they’re all long gone from what is now G/O.

The dress code is just a chickensh*t HR Culture power move to show the creatives there’s a new MBA in town. It also dresses the open-plan office set for whatever bro-ier sucker they’ll sell this off to next. One way or another, by the end of the process it’ll be a content farm like Forbes (one hopes whoever ends up with it will at least preserve the archive of quality articles by real journalists).

It’s of a piece with the ban on encrypted e-mails: the vulture capitalists want to shut down all avenues for union organising.

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