Russell Simmons-Founded All Def Digital Lays Off Staff, Ex Employees Slam Company For Toxic & Sketchy Work Environment
Last week’s shakeup of Russell Simmons-founded All-Def Digital might have come as a shock to the public, but a number of now-former employees have spoken about what the work culture was really like before almost everyone was fired in the shakeup. And it’s not good.
The company had already suffered bad press when Simmons faced sexual assault allegations last year. He stepped down from the company after launching in 2013. The YouTube network was on track to create original programs for platforms like Facebook and HBO. It even raised $18 million thanks to investors, signed on to a partnership with Spotify, and had other projects in the works.
While rumors swirled that the company was shutting down entirely after firing almost all of its staff last week, CEO Chris Blackwell said,
“We are reorganizing the company in advance of a strategic deal.”
Several other former employees said they were told the company couldn’t stay in business after being the target for several scandals, making it a risk for investors and other businesses in the music industry.
One previous worker who asked to remain anonymous said,
“No one knows the truth, which is the scariest part of it. I don’t think anyone’s ever been told the truth in that building. The way Chris is talking about it now makes it sound even crazier.”
Many ex-workers are saying they suffered a toxic work environment, to say the least. One said,
“The content was dope, but the leadership was piss-poor.”
Another said the culture for women was so terrible that many of them quit.
“Every bad stereotype that you hear about what this industry could be thrived in that environment. It was a s*** show from the day I started. It was everything you were warned about. This ‘oh it’s post-Russell’ era? It was just a jersey they wore for show. We were down to just two women at one point because literally every other person with a vagina walked out of the building.”
The staff went from 60 to 15, as ex-workers say they were pressured into taking on multiple jobs and even were physically hurt because they had to do physical labor that wasn’t included in their job description. Many workers said they tried to complain with HR, but were told the company didn’t have an HR department.
At one point, they weren’t certain if they would even get paid. One said,
“Money was always an unsure thing for us, but we were always cranking out tons of content. It was always sketchy how things operated, but for the most part we kept our heads down. They made a lot of empty promises. It feels like the rug was pulled out from under us.”
Another expressed their disappointment over the leadership of the company bringing it down.
“The potential for ADD to be great was so, so profound. With that group of people in control, it never stood a chance.”
Simmons has yet to comment.
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