🚪A bad Glassdoor review could cost $1m

{date(‘MMMM dd, yyyy’,time(“now”))}
The Hustle

Last month, a bar at LaGuardia Airport in New York was caught selling a Sam Adams Summer Ale for $27.85. The owners said the price was listed incorrectly and updated it to $18.15 — a true bargain.

Today’s rundown:

  • Bad Glassdoor review? That’ll be $1m.
  • Turbulent times: Amazon’s drone program struggles to lift off.
  • Sicko Mode: Rapper Travis Scott teamed up with McDonald’s, “Fortnite,” and now A24.
  • Chart of the day: Costs of airport food vs. street food.

Let’s do it.

The big idea
Glassdoor at a podium

Could talking smack about your ex-job cost you millions?

Could a bad Glassdoor review cost you $1m+? We’re about to find out.

Software engineer Wyatt Troia wrote negative reviews about working at LoanStreet, a New York-based fintech startup, on Glassdoor, Reddit, and Blind.

Now, LoanStreet CEO Ian Lampl is suing Troia in a $1m defamation suit, per Business Insider. Meanwhile, Troia is raising defense money via GoFundMe.

Troia claims:

  • After “15 months of praise,” he was fired after finding mistakes in a “favorite” engineer’s code
  • He was promised $100k in equity that he never received
  • He also called LoanStreet “a raging dumpster fire.”

LoanStreet’s lawsuit alleges:

  • Troia’s claims are false and threaten its employees’ livelihoods
  • He was fired for poor performance and lack of engagement
  • He used paid Google ads to boost his posts
  • Readers sent execs disparaging messages on LinkedIn

How important are employee reviews?

Negative reviews or press can affect a company’s image (e.g., the Blizzard Entertainment boycott). But they can also impact a company’s ability to attract talent.

A survey from marketing agency Fractl found:

  • 84% of job seekers look at reviews
  • ⅓ turned down jobs over negative reviews
  • Disgruntled employees are most likely to leave reviews

Courts have favored Glassdoor and reviewers in the past

  • A craft beer store attempted to sue Glassdoor over its refusal to remove negative reviews. Glassdoor motioned for dismissal and the court agreed because Glassdoor didn’t write the reviews and they revealed no confidential info.
  • A court also denied a tech company’s request that Glassdoor reveal the writer of an anonymous post it claimed violated an NDA.

Troia’s case is a bit different, but the result could impact how safe ex-employees feel about naming and shaming.

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SNIPPETS

Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works are officially broken up and trading separately on the stock market. #ecommerce-retail

Tube trouble: Many hospitals still use pneumatic tubes to move medicine and other goods around. The problem? They can be hacked. #privacy

The Guardian took a deep dive into the history of electric cars — including 1897’s most popular US car — and what that tells us about their future. #clean-energy

Hey, remember Bing? Microsoft dropped details on a new AI model it says will improve the search engine. #big-tech

Going twice: What happens to the $1.2B in crypto the IRS seized this fiscal year? Some of it goes up for auction. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Tesla is inviting people to its “AI Day” event, teasing test rides, demos, and “what’s next for AI at Tesla” beyond its cars. #emerging-tech

Struggling to take off
Amazon drone smackdown

Amazon’s drone project is experiencing turbulence

Ah, delivery drones — simultaneously terrifying and potentially quite helpful.

Amazon, long a promoter of its own efforts in the space, now appears to have committed a cardinal sin of business: overpromise and under-deliver.

After years talking up drones, Amazon’s are nowhere to be found

In 2015, Amazon launched a PR campaign with this cool video.

  • It also offered tours of its secret drone lab, and its executives promised delivery drones just months away.

But a new report from Wired found that 100+ Amazonians in the company’s UK-based drone unit have lost their jobs, and the project is broadly struggling to take off.

Anonymous Amazonians described the program as “collapsing inwards,” “dysfunctional,” “organised chaos,” and “detached from reality.” (Ouch.)

The root of the problem: Management

Leaders appointed to the project were reportedly logistics and warehouse ops folks, and not experts in scalable machine-learning drone delivery networks.

  • A UK team member said the unit reported to a US-based Amazon exec who would occasionally visit, buy them pizza, and then ask them to 2x their output at work.

That whole situation sounds rough. But hey, at least there was pizza.

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Brand partnerships
Travis Scott's partnerships

Travis Scott continues his hot streak of brand partnerships

Travis Scott’s partnership game has officially reached “Sicko Mode.”

The latest is a collab with A24, the production company behind films like “Moonlight,” “Uncut Gems,” and “Lady Bird.”

The announcement included a sneak peek at the 1st joint project — a screenplay titled “Utopia” that will align with his next album release.

Where does A24 rank in the list of Travis Scott partnerships?

Time will tell, but here are 3 of our faves:

  • McDonald’s: The Cactus Jack happy meal netted Scott $20m and left Mickey D’s short on burger supplies.
  • “Fortnite”: Scott hosted a 9-minute set in the game’s digital universe that drew 12m+ concurrent viewers and garnered $20m.
  • Nike: Scott has made sneaker drops with Nike and Jordan Brand a regular occurrence, with 1 pair fetching $35k on StockX. The deal brings in an estimated $10m annually.

The partnership helps A24 diversify its portfolio

The studio explored a $3B sale to Apple last month, and according to Dan Runcie of Trapital, the partnership could help boost A24’s valuation.

While “Utopia” is in the works, we’re hoping the next project is a big-screen adaptation of RL Stine’s “Goosebumps” since Scott already has the theme song ready to go.

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Chill out: Sand Tagious is a YouTube channel that posts videos of people cutting and playing with colorful kinetic sand. Zone out with its 4.4m subscribers.

🏃🏿‍♂️On this day: In 1936, Jesse Owens won the 200-meter race in just 20.7 seconds, scoring both a world record and his 3rd gold medal at the Berlin Olympics.

🐦Wild story: Experts say a goose spotted flying upside down was just showing off. Well, color us impressed.

🍋How to: Lifehacker explains how to grow a lemon tree in your house, even if you live in the wrong climate for citrus.

📱Wow: This animated pie chart illustrates how the market share for mobile operating systems has changed from the now-defunct Symbian to a world dominated by Apple and Android.

Chart of the day
airport prices vs street prices for various items

American travelers are flying again.

One thing they probably didn’t miss during the 2020 lockdowns? Exorbitantly priced airport food.

Food, beverage, and retail sales make up as much as 60% of an airport’s total revenue — and items are often marked up 100%+ over street price.

If you’ve ever wondered why, check out our deep dive on the economics of airport food from 2019.

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