The website .Mic snapped up a casual $17 million in funding this week to better inform millennials of Things That Sum Up Everything About Something and it seems like founders Jake Horowitz and Christopher Altchek are pretty happy. Pretty unhappy, however, are the website’s employees, who say morale is worse than ever.
Despite the site’s increasing credibility—in addition to the new funding, the company fired one plagiarist and hired NPR’s Madhulika Sikka as an incoming executive editor—the writers have a lot of complaints.
In an interview with Capital New York, several employees expressed dismay with what they describe as a total disconnect between senior management and edit and, for one fired writer, between senior management and reality.
But while Mic’s predominantly young staff is said to have welcomed the hiring of a veteran news executive, some employees first learned that Horowitz would be giving up his editorial role only after reading Capital’s interview with Altchek about Madhulika Sikka.
(Mic finally addressed Horowitz’s transition in a company all-hands meeting a few hours later, a company source told Capital.)
Several former and current employees who discussed the company with Capital spoke of staff members “being disappeared” (a phrase that cropped up in multiple interviews). “Every two or three weeks, two or three people would just go away randomly,” one former employee said, noting that management would “give a vague explanation” about the exits at the company’s weekly all-staff meetings.
One former employee was taken aback by the number of a times a company executive used the word “awesome” during the meeting in which the individual was told that Mic would not be extending the individual’s contract, or, as the individual put it: “when my life was changing for the worst.”
Some staffers are won over with free snacks and beer in the office, and the “golden mics” for editorial accomplishments awarded in meetings; others view those perks skeptically as a way to keep a small, overworked staff marginally happy.
“They would rather spend money on food and snacks than employees’ livelihood,” said another former staffer.
Others complain about the workday itself, saying they’re shamed for leaving at a reasonable hour: “If you leave at 7 p.m., you get side-eyes,” one employee tells Capital.
For the most part, though, it seems as though most of those interviewed are waiting to see what happens when Sikka formally joins the office in September.