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44. Re: Stardock Lawsuits Settled Sep 25, 2013, 17:52 draginol
 
@Sepharo

I'm not good at remembering handles to names but I think I remember you. You used to get us slurpees right? :-)

I'm not going to criticize Alexandra. She was a good employee for most of her tenure. What I will say in general is that it's never a good idea to take something you read in a lawsuit filing as canon because they are intentionally twisted by lawyers to mean something they're not.

For example, you commented on the bee video: http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=UPc9Z2Dn94U&page=1

You knew the video was a skit we put together using drone bees (no stingers). But an Internet rage mob thought it was real and went berzerk with condemnations and flaming. But that tells you how much context matters. There are forums with threads dedicated to hating on that video because they really believe it was me stinging employees with bees. Like, Mr. Burns or something....excellent.

I'm not going to try to convince anyone I'm a nice guy because I'm not really that nice. But I am honest. I can only promise people I'll tell them the truth.

In our industry, people are always talking about misogyny and often times, the media that throws these stones are living in glass houses. I've been on so many media tours over the years with my female marketing manager and female PR manager where our presence doubled the number of females in the entire magazine's office.

The things Stardock is best known for were led by women. The lead developer of Galactic Civilizations is a woman. The Project Manager of Start8 is a woman. The lead artist on Fallen Enchantress/Legendary Heroes is a woman. And so on. I've yet to visit a studio that is even remotely as diverse as ours (sex, race, orientation, etc.). We just don't discriminate. We don't care if you're white, black, liberal, conservative, gay, or Drengin. We just care whether you can do the job extremely well.

Alexandra was the first female employee to leave the company voluntarily in our history (20 years next month). If anyone reading this works at a tech company where a third of the employees are women, and has that low of a turn over then perhaps you can clue others in on the significance of that.

None of that excuses me from writing a sarcastic flame email to one of my employees. I'm not proud of that. I wasn't proud of it at the time and had apologized to her the next day for being such a jerk in my email. There was a lot leading up to that series of emails but as the "boss" I have a responsibility to keep my cool and clearly, in that instance, I failed. It was, however, written not based on her sex but because of the events leading up to the email.

I could get into a much much longer discussion on how toxic I think our company's environment was in 2010. It was one of the reasons why we sold off Impulse.

There's a reason why studios and publishers and distributors are usually separate companies. The cultures in each tend to be very different and very incompatible. And in 2010 we had all 3 in the same building and it was highly unpleasant. I hated it. I hated coming to work.

There's an email out there that was part of discovery (it was sent privately to our VP of Ops but was subpoenaed during the suit) that really highlighted how frustrated I was at the time. As the founder/CEO/owner I don't really have the luxury to quit my job. But I can tell ya, if I could, in 2010, I would have. It was a horrible horrible time that summer. I got stuck with finishing Elemental (our PM had to go on maternity leave) and I was aggravated that it was nothing like Master of Magic (long story there on its own). But the bottom line is that it was a sucky time and if I could have, I would have quit and found another job then.

Luckily, after Elemental shipped (and was generally considered awful) it forced me to restructure the company. It was the best thing that ever happened to be honest. I got rid of Impulse. We lost some people I really miss but get to talk to on Skype all the time but we also shed a lot of the people who weren't a cultural fit and that's putting it kindly.

The point being, if you dream of starting your own company, remember that once you are a going concern, it becomes basically impossible to quit. That's why many business owners make a lot of effort to make sure the company remains enjoyable for them. They're stuck there.

So as you mentioned, we go to the movies together. We have personal trainers come in, we have a nutritionist come in. Etc.

None of that, btw, excuses any sort of illegal behavior. But "inappropriate" is in the eye of the beholder. I was willing (and highly motivated) to let a jury of our peers make that call. We knew (and by we, I mean every person at Stardock including the female friends Alexanddra had recruited who are still there) we hadn't done anything wrong. You can read the twisted pieces online and then what I've posted without taking into account what I'm referring to and make your own conclusions of course.

I won't pretend to know how many game company "CEOs" hang out on forums. You guys who know me know I'm on a lot of forums. I post openly, as myself. I have for years. I also have been blogging for decades. I don't pretend to be "a nice guy" (whatever that is). I can promise I tell the truth. So there it is for what it's worth.
 
 
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