My Thoughts On The Linus Media Group Controversy

Over the last few days, Linus Media Group (LMG) which is known for the YouTube channel Linus Tech Tips and its star Linus Sebastian has been having, difficulties shall we say. Let me summarize it all for you:

This mess started with this Linus Tech Tips lab tour video:

In the video an LMG employee said “the difference between us and somebody like Gamers Nexus or Hardware Unboxed is we test new components, new tests every time.”

Cue the clap back. Which started with this tweet from YouTube channel Hardware Unboxed which was called out in the video:

YouTube channel Gamers Nexus put out a 44-minute response video that highlighted problems with Linus Media Group focusing on quantity over quality and rushing out videos, hardware review errors, and ethical concerns such as Sebastian’s investment in laptop company Framework. Here’s the video for your viewing pleasure:

That leads to the next step a review of a prototype watercooling block called the Monoblock from Billet Labs which was mentioned in the above video. The TL:DR is that it was not only tested on a graphic card that it wasn’t designed to cool, which lead to suboptimal performance unsurprisingly. But the prototype was auctioned off against the wishes of Monoblock who wanted the prototype back.

But we’re not done yet. Former employee Madison Reeve went public and accused LMG of fostering a toxic work environment, sexual harassment from employees, and ruining her mental health. Here’s some of the details:

“I never publicly made any statements regarding my time there because I feared even more backlash from a community that was already attacking, defaming, and sending me death threats,” Reeve stated on her Twitter / X account, before posting that they would not “have recommended anyone I knew to work there, especially with my experiences as a woman in the office.”

Reeve continues to allege that they were called “incompetent” and attempted to get help from managers, but was rebuffed and told to be “more assertive.” Following this, they claim to have been pulled into a meeting, where they were laughed at. 

Following their attempts to receive help, Reeve alleges that they were “inappropriately grabbed multiple times” in the office, and barred from appearing in Linus Tech Tips videos. 

“The opportunities LTT presented to me were nothing in comparison the day to day issues I faced,” Reeve continued, claiming she was met with multiple sexist remarks throughout the duration of their employment. 

All of that is pretty bad to say the least. I am guessing that LMG is in full panic mode as they have suspended all video production (prior to this, LMG put out dozens of YouTube videos a week) to address all of the stuff related to accuracy, testing and internal processes. But not before putting out this apology video:

What’s interesting is the issue with Madison Reeve wasn’t addressed in the video. Instead Linus Sebastian went to The Verge to respond to that:

I was in a state of shock reading through these allegations, plain and simple. They aren’t consistent with my recollections. They aren’t consistent with our internal processes. They aren’t consistent with our company values.

We pride ourselves on maintaining a safe and inclusive environment. In addition to our existing report systems (both anonymous and otherwise) we’ve proactively reached out internally today to encourage members of our team to report any workplace bullying or harassment they might be experiencing so we can take quick and decisive action.

Our HR team will be conducting a more thorough assessment of the allegations, and when we are ready, we will release a more complete statement. For now I would ask that we allow our team the time they need to be as thorough as possible.

That’s a complete mess to say the least. And I have to say, this was coming for a while.

LMG Group has pushed itself to make dozens of videos a week on multiple YouTube channels. And until very recently, it was run by a guy who started this company in his bedroom. More recently they brought on a full time CEO by the name of Terren Tong to run things. But I think it’s a safe bet that there were likely little if any guardrails and processes in place to ensure that a situation like this did not happen. While LMG has become hugely successful, there’s clearly been a cost to this success. In my mind, Linus Sebastian has played out the final ten minutes of the Chris Nolan Film, The Dark Knight. Specifically the quote “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to become the villain.” Sebastian has become the latter. And I honestly don’t see a way back for him or LMG. While I would like to be proven wrong on that front, I don’t think I will be. Even if they take time off to address all their issues, I don’t see a scenario where they can be trusted again. This very much could be the jumping the shark moment for them. Which is unfortunate as LMG is a Canadian success story. Or rather was. Because those days appear to be over.

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