The Downward Spiral of Linus Media Group

Linus Sebastian of LMG

Linus Sebastian’s YouTube media company, Linus Media Group, has seen better days. The media giant has been accused by their contemporaries within the tech YouTube space of theft, erroneous reviews of products, ethical concerns pertaining to their affiliations with other tech companies, and most recently (and most concerning), allegations of workplace harassment by a former employee.

It all seemingly started on June 24th, 2023, after LMG’s main channel, Linus Tech Tips, posted a video in which they tested a prototype dual water block by company, Billet Labs. Linus and cohosts were critical of the product, telling their audience by the end of the video to not buy the block. However, the water block was specifically intended to be used with a different graphics card (an RTX 3090 vs a 4090, which LTT used), which Linus and his cohosts failed to rectify during the testing, allowing the video to be posted as is. It’s a lapse in judgment, being arguably the largest tech channel on the platform whose audience hope to receive accuracy during a critical review of a product. Especially when considering your company has a ‘Labs’ team whose specific purpose is to test and understand the detailed specifications of every product the channel reviews. Yet Linus himself noted during his podcast, The WAN Show, that he didn’t want to spend the dollars needed to rectify the errors, saying:

“I’m not sure I can apologize for not spending another 100, 200, 300, 500 dollars of various people’s time sitting and engineering a workaround for a product that, no matter the result, nobody should buy”

This last point specifically was one of the main talking points for another YouTuber, Steve Burke—editor-in-chief of channel, Gamers Nexus—who released a video earlier this week titled, “The Problem with Linus Tech Tips: Accuracy, Ethics, & Responsibility,” outlining the ongoing issues of LMG’s video-making practices. He would go on to cite the many times Linus and his crew had made errors in their videos, from graphs showing incorrect numbers, to falsely blaming a product when their testing was done haphazardly—much like the Billet Labs fiasco. Burke also brought to light some of the ethical concerns of their reviews, saying how LMG had relations with certain manufactures, either through sponsorships or brand deals, that could potentially skew the way in which certain products would be talked about.

Steve Burke from Gamer’s Nexus
Steve Burke from Gamer’s Nexus

As far as the errors are concerns, Burke says that “rushing content out the door” is one of if not the biggest reason for these otherwise easily rectifiable mistakes. He cites a video by LMG titled, “What’s It Like to Work for Linus?” where multiple employees—and Linus himself—talked about the immense number of videos that must get published each week across their ten channels. Not only did employees say that they wished they had more time per project, but one would even go as far as to say that they’ve yet to feel truly proud of a video they had made due to the blistering pace in which all the employees must work to get each video posted. As such, it’s easy to see how miscommunication between testers, editors, and writers would lead to errors in the information provided in videos.

Linus would go on to write a response in a community forum, in which he criticized Burke of “not going through proper journalistic practices” to contact him before uploading his video. He would go on to defend their Billet Labs situation by saying that he didn’t believe it was an issue of accuracy, but rather that he “just read the room wrong,” which is an odd way of phrasing it to say the least. This written response prompted another video response from Burke, wherein he admonished Linus for “willfully ignoring our valid criticisms of data accuracy” and “trying to manipulate the audience into viewing him as the victim.” And so, the spiral continues.

LTT Billet Labs Video
That $500 probably should have been spent, huh Linus? | Credit: Linus Tech Tips

Personally, as a non-PC enthusiast and casual tech nerd, though I fully understand the need for LMG to take accountability for their errors when testing/reviewing a product, and the ethical concerns pertaining to their connections with companies that sponsor their videos are absolutely worth criticism, it’s what’s happening behind the scenes within the offices at Surrey, BC that has me most concerned.

Former employee, Madison Reeve’s, spoke out on X (formerly Twitter) this past Wednesday on her experience working at LMG. Her allegations against the company were long and damning; from unrealistic work expectations, to sexism, harassment, and overall inappropriate conduct by LMG managers and coworkers, leading to her mental health being at “an all time low.” A few of the posts in her thread read:

“I was consistently belittled by certain members of upper management. My work was called “dogshit””

“I was called “incompetent.” When I would reach out to managers and try to get help with these situations, I would be told to “put on my big girl pants” and be “more assertive.””

“I was asked about my sexual history, my boyfriends sexual history, “how I liked to fuck””

“I was asked to twerk for a co-worker at one point. I was told I was chunky, fat, ugly, stupid. I was called “retarded” I was called a “faggot””

Beyond that, Reeve would go on to write about the “grindset” culture of the company, and how every employee were constantly sprinting to get their next video out; leading even more credence to the criticisms brought on by Burke. All of her allegations unfortunately align with this ongoing trend we’ve been seeing forever in male-dominated companies, specifically ones within the tech and gaming spaces (though let’s not fool ourselves in thinking that it doesn’t happen elsewhere) where a “frat-bro” culture is almost to be expected, and one where the voices and concerns of women go unheard. From women from companies like Activision-Blizzard, Ubisoft, and Riot Games all alleging sexual misconduct within the workplace, to dozens more within the tech and gaming spaces coming out to speak on their experiences. Reeve’s allegations are reflective of the culture of sexism and discrimination that still runs rampant within the space. It seems we still have a ways to go before we see actual, tangible change.

Madison Reeve from Techlinked
Madison Reeve from TechLinked

LMG would post a heavily scripted apology video wherein CFO Yvonne Ho announced that the entire company would be taking a week (or more) off from posting videos in order to restructure their production output. Furthermore, current CEO of LMG, Terran Tong, responded to an email sent by The Verge regarding the allegations by Reeve. The Verge writing:

“Terren Tong also responded via email, saying he was “shocked at the allegations and the company described” in Reeve’s posts. He went on to note that “as part of this process, beyond an internal review we will also be hiring an outside investigator to look into the allegations and will commit to publish the findings and implementing any corrective actions that may arise because of this.””

Hopefully this investigator can bring light to many of the concerns outlined by Reeve. We’ll see how things go for Linus Media Group, but for right now, it seems the downward spiral continues.

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