If There's No One to Crate the Loot, Who Will Loot the Crates? | #JobsForLC
This is a tough one to write.
If you'd told me 7 years ago this was the post I'd be writing today, I don't know that I'd believe it.
As many people have heard by now, Friday, August 9th, 2019, Loot Crate let a lot of employees go very suddenly starting at around 3pm PDT. I was among those laid off. Many people were left shocked, confused, and ultimately, jobless.
To add fuel to the fire, in the evening on Sunday, August 11th, Loot Crate very quietly sent out a press release stating that the company was filing for bankruptcy and being acquired. Also mentioned in the release was that a new infusion of cash was coming in to the business, and that employees would be unaffected. (Completely failing to acknowledge the mass layoff that happened just 48 hours prior.)
As one of the first full time employees (Not counting the co-founders), who put much of his blood, sweat, time, soul, and tears in to Loot Crate from the beginning, witnessing everything that transpired the last week was incredibly heartbreaking, and frustrating. I'd been witness to every layoff we'd had previously, (some much bigger than this one), and even had to go out to South Carolina and shut down our office there at one point when we laid that office off, but none of those we're executed as brutally as this one was.
The layoffs happened very last minute, with everyone's final check's being hand cut/printed in office, and for the first time in many years that I can recall, not a single employee was granted a cent of severance pay. Severance pay had been an established norm over the years, and many people (myself included) were counting on that in the event something happened to cause another layoff, etc, to help keep the bills paid and such. There's been a lot of speculation that the reason for that was those who put this layoff together knew the company would be filing bankruptcy, and that they did this knowing former employees couldn't pursue legal action because of bankruptcy protections. Is this how and why this went down the way it did? I don't have the ability to say, but I can see the sense in it from those involved in making the decision who likely were apathetic to the employees that would be lost.
I joined Loot Crate initially because of the great potential I saw in it, and even back then I still needed a little convincing. I'd done the startup side of business before and seen how quickly businesses can live and die overnight, or be mishandled in comparison to larger established companies, and was skeptical, not having much knowledge of the CEO going in. I started out initially coming in a couple days a week to donate my time to solving problems, while getting a sense for the day to day dynamic and seeing if it was the right fit for me. I didn't see Chris Davis (CEO) as someone who truly understood the fanbase he was trying to sell this product to, which gave me hesitation and concern. What I did see however, was that he was willing to step out of the way, (at the time), so that those of us like myself who understood the customers we were selling to, and could properly curate items for, could make the magic happen. It truly did feel like magic sometimes.
Growing up, I was a fan of sites like ThinkGeek (@ThinkGeek) and Jinx Hackwear (@Jinx), who I felt understood and properly catered to the inner geek/hacker/gamer/otaku in me. I saw an opportunity in Loot Crate where we could take that feeling, mash it up with the growing subscription box craze at the time, and deliver that magic once a month to fans everywhere, whether they were hanging out at LAN Parties in Los Angeles, Hacker spaces in Salt Lake City, Anime watch parties in New York, or even DND'ing with their friends in a basement in a small town in Kansas. We initially pitched ourselves as "Comic Con in a box". A way for those that couldn't make it to a Comic Con or stand in the long lines, still be able to receive a little bit of that magic every month.
One of the hardest things for me to witness through all of this was that magic disappearing these past few years. The first few of the company were amazing, it seemed like we had created lightning in a bottle, filled from an endless source. Subscriber counts kept rising, products became better in quality, and we were more than just a product, there was a real sense of community around what we were doing. Major influencers in the YouTuber / Gamer / Instagram / Cosplay / and more communities were practically breaking down our doors with requests to work with us, because they loved our product, and their fans loved seeing our products unboxed. Many of our employees were proud geeks and gamers themselves, which lent authenticity to our product curation, our marketing efforts, and even our customer support system. It's part of what made us special, and part of what set us apart from the many competitors (now long gone) who tried to enter the space to make a quick buck.
Clearly we lost what made us special somewhere along the way. When originally writing this post, this was about the time I started pointing fingers, or talking about where the ones that had been pointed frequently over the years were directed, and detailing the downfall and all of the places it went wrong. This isn't going to be a finger pointing post however. (That's not to rule out a larger more well thought out discussion about that in the future though, we'll see, stay tuned.) Instead, I'd prefer to help those like myself find the work they need to survive. Those laid off on friday were some of the best employees we had left, many of who spent their day-to-day trying to put on a happy positive attitude in the face of poor management, vendors stalking and contacting them asking for money owed, poor perceived value of product, upset customers on social media, and redditors who spent the bulk of their days striking fear into employees and customers over 'inside information' they had for the sake of gaining attention with no thought about how it affected those employees who came in head high trying to fake a smile for a situation they were powerless to change.
SO HERE'S MY CALL TO ARMS: If you are a recruiter, hr department, or simply know of job openings in the Los Angeles Area at your company or others, who could benefit from hard working geeks in the:
- Social Media
- Community Management
- Media Production (Video/YouTube/Live/Podcast/etc)
- Customer Service
- Project Management
..and more categories,
Please post them on Twitter with the hashtag #JobsForLC
Additionally, my DM's are now open to the public, so if there's something you're looking for that you don't want to spam out publicly, just drop me a DM and I can refer you to those I know of that were affected that would fit. Signal boosts / RT's of this post to get the message out are appreciated as well.
If there's one thing that I want the (former) fans and customers of Loot Crate to know, it's this: when this staff said 'we love you', they truly meant it. Even in the face of hate-filled support tickets, reddit threads, posts on twitter / facebook / instagram / etc, this staff saw your words, and wanted to take care of you. They knew your pain. They wanted to help, they wanted to fix it, they wanted to give you better products, a better experience, products that shipped on time, they wanted to make you happy, in the face of all of that. Even when they knew they couldn't help, they still tried, they still fought behind the scenes for you, the customer, even if things couldn't be changed at the top. (This also applies to those of you who were vendors / influencers / contractors we worked with as well.)
The last 7 years have been a wild ride. I was incredibly blessed to work with so many talented and amazing people, to meet and collaborate with so many great partners at other companies we worked with, and to meet and geek out with so many of our passionate fans & subscribers when I ran our booths & exhibit spaces at conventions all over the US & UK from 2013–2016.
This is where I would say onward and upward, but instead I'll quote a hero of mine (who I was
privileged to meet because of Loot Crate) who always said it better:
P.S. To those of you who were fans of our weekly Looter News show I was producing that ran for the last 4 years in various iterations, or our live streams, I'm sorry we didn't get to give you guys a proper send off. Keep your eyes peeled though, I'm sure you'll find us on your interweb screens again soon enough :P
P.P.S.: Eva Chan and Edward Sanchez: You both were some of our biggest fans and supporters over the years, and I can't speak enough about how much we appreciated you, and how much your support and tweets and comments helped put smiles on our faces so many many times. THANK YOU!