The CEO of an online marketing firm was lambasted on social media after he posted a “cringeworthy” selfie on LinkedIn that showed him crying as he announced layoffs.
Braden Wallake, the CEO of Columbus, Ohio-based marketing services firm HyperSocial, took to LinkedIn to announce the firings in a lengthy, blubbering ramble to employees.
It is unclear how many employees were fired by the company.
“This will be the most vulnerable thing I’ll ever share,” he wrote. “I’ve gone back and forth whether to post this or not. We just had to layoff a few of our employees.”
Wallake then wrote that the dismissals were “my fault” because of a decision that he made in February. He admitted that he “stuck with that decision for far too long.”
“Now, I know my team will say that ‘we made that decision together,’ but I lead us into it,” he wrote. “And because of those failings, I had to do today, the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
“We’ve always been a people first business. And we always will be,” he added.
“Days like today, I wish I was a business owner that was only money driven and didn’t care about who he hurt along the way,” Wallake wrote. “But I’m not. I’m sure there are hundreds and thousands of others like me.”
According to HyperSocial’s LinkedIn page, the company, which was founded in 2019, has up to 50 employees. The Post has reached out to Wallake seeking comment.
“The ones you don’t see talked about,” he continued. “Because they didn’t lay off 50 or 500 or 5000 employees. They laid off 1 or 2 or 3. 1 or 2 or 3 that would still be here if better decisions had been made.”
Wallake continued: “I know it isn’t professional to tell my employees that I love them. But from the bottom of my heart, I hope they know how much I do.”
“Every single one. Every single story. Every single thing that makes them smile and every single thing that makes them cry,” he wrote. “Their families. Their friends. Their hobbies. I’ve always hired people based on who they are as people.”
“People with great hearts, and great souls. And I can’t think of a lower moment than this,” Wallake wrote.
The post by Wallake generated nearly 28,500 reactions, more than 4,770 comments, and nearly 400 shares as of Wednesday afternoon. Most of the reactions were negative.
“Why don’t you cut your salary or don’t take one until the company is back where you need it to be?” one commenter wrote on LinkedIn. “I mean, if you really cared about your employees and the hardship you just dropped on them.”
Another LinkedIn user posted a screenshot of an Instagram post by Wallake from June in which he announced that he adopted a sea otter.
“Maybe it’s not a great idea to adopt a sea lion at the beginning of a recession?”
Wallake pushed back, saying that the adoption was a result of a “donation made on my behalf as a birthday present to me” and that he doesn’t “actually have a sea otter running around our van.”
Another LinkedIn user wrote: “are you being serious here?! Perhaps you think all publicity is good publicity.
“For goodness sake show some humility or some dignity.”
Another critic wrote: “I am sorry, your post causes bad feelings at me. This is more about YOUR feelings and not about the feelings of the people you had to lay off. That looks a bit like self-pity.”
Others on LinkedIn defended Wallake and criticized those who ridiculed him.
“What about this post in which he admits his faults, failures and expresses his anguish at the hurt he’s caused made you feel the need to pile on?” one Wallake defender wrote.
Wallake posted another message on LinkedIn on Wednesday in response to the backlash. He defended his decision to post the thread and pushed back on suggestions that he publicly name the fired employees.
“Hey everyone, yes, I am the crying CEO,” he wrote.
“No, my intent was not to make it about me or victimize myself. I am sorry it came across that way.”
Wallake continued: “It was not my place to out the employees’ names publicly.”
“What I want to do now, is try to make better of this situation and start a thread for people looking for work,” he wrote.
The move was a far cry from last year’s widely publicized incident in which the chief executive of Better.com callously announced that he would be laying off hundreds of workers during a three-minute Zoom call.