Tech CEO praises worker for selling dog so they could return to the office


Posts: 8,809   +110
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WTF?! In another example of why tech CEOs (or any CEOs, for that matter) find little love from others, the boss of a Utah digital marketing company who wants his employees back in the office has praised one worker for selling their family dog in order to comply with his demands. Not content with that remark, he went on to accuse employees of "quiet quitting" and not working enough. He also questioned single parents who work full-time, stating that such an arrangement wasn't fair to children or employers.

The man at the center of the controversy is James Clarke, CEO of Clearlink, a digital marketing company based in Utah. He held a virtual town hall last week, which is making headlines for his extreme, nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic being pushed to employees.

Motherboard posted an edited video of the meeting after it was taken offline elsewhere following a copyright complaint from Clearlink. It was mostly meant to discuss the company's return-to-work policy that forced workers living within 50 miles of company headquarters in Draper, Utah, back into the building four days per week, with some exceptions. This was despite Clarke telling staff in late October that there were no plans to end remote work - some employees had been hired on the understanding that they would be working from home.

But rather than reassuring staff about returning to the office, Clarke seemed to spend much of the video complaining about them. He said around 30 employees had not opened their laptops for a month (quiet quitters) and claimed some developers had been working at other companies while picking up a paycheck from Clearlink.

Clarke said recent advancements in AI meant the company should be increasing its productivity by 30 to 50 times its normal production. He also mentioned that he went to Oxford and Harvard, which he says were founded and operated under the Judeo-Christian ethic. "I challenge any of you to outwork me, but you won't," he said.

The CEO also praised the sacrifices people have made in order to come back to the office. "I've sacrificed, and those of you that are here have sacrificed greatly to be here as well – to be away from your family." He noted that "I learned from one of our leaders that, in the midst of hearing this message, [someone] went out and sold their family dog."

Clarke, who spent a decade on the board of pet health company PetIQ, said the dog story "breaks my heart, as someone who's been at the head of the humanization of pets movement in other businesses that we've built." But then it does sound as if he's praising the dog-seller – it's not like he added the words "Please, people, don't sell your beloved pets" at the end of the anecdote.

Clarke finished his memorable tirade by taking aim at single mothers, claiming they struggle to fulfill both roles as caregivers and full-time employees.

"Breadwinning mothers were hit the very hardest by this pandemic. Many of you have tried to tend to your own children and in doing so also manage your demanding work schedules and responsibilities. And while I know you're doing your best... one could argue this path is neither fair to your employer, nor fair to those children," Clarke said.

"I don't necessarily believe that," he continued, possibly covering his back before confirming, "But I do believe that only the rarest of full-time caregivers can also be a productive and full-time employee simultaneously. You may take issue with any part of this, but I believe the data will also support this in time."

Not surprisingly, it seems some employees have compared Clarke to a "Wall Street felon," likely a reference to Michael Douglas' Gordon Gekko character in the Wall Street films, whose "Greed is good" mantra often seems to be one that CEOs abide by.

Clearlink told Vice that what Clarke said was internal company business.

It's not as if CEOs are averse to this kind of behavior. In December 2021, Vishal Garg, CEO of mortgage firm, laid off 900 staff during a three-minute Zoom call. More recently, MillerKnoll CEO Andi Owen said that, after giving herself a $6 million bonus, the rest of the company would not be getting yearly bonuses and should "leave Pity City."

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Posts: 5,319   +7,198
Last year I worked for a company that expected me to work 80-90 hours a week and I was okay with it at the time because I was compensated very well for it. However, after nearly 2 years with the company my girlfriend broke up with me, I was "kicked out" of a club I was a big part of because I couldn't attended events with them and I even had trouble taking time off to help my elderly mother get to doctors appointments. The last straw for me was that I was in a severe car accident 2 states away on a job where I nearly died. 400 miles away from home with no idea how I was getting back. That job cost me everything. I had no time to spend the money I was earning and I found myself completely alone.

It's not worth it, I took a job this year where I work around 40-50 hours a week. I took a significant pay cut over all but I still get more per hour. Fact of the matter, I work to live not live to work.

Companies are criticizing people for wanting a "better" work-life balance but the fact of the matter is that there is no work life balance, just work. I gave up my life both figuratively and nearly literally for a job. After my car accident I had some serious introspection and saw that I had everything I already wanted, why was I chasing the money?

A few days ago that company requested my help for a day and I was approved for it by my employer so I went. It was a project I had worked on a lot and was legitimately interested in seeing how it was going. They asked me to come back fulltime when I arrived and I was considering it. As the day went on I saw many of the other employees complaining about the very things I left over.

Don't let these companies rule your life. I'm not trying to be anti-corporation or anything, but I've been a part of these toxic cultures. This thing with the dog hit home really hard for me because I'd been wanting a dog for years now but then I was always reminded of the fact that "I don't have time for it, it wouldn't be fair to the dog"

Success requires sacrifices but it shouldn't require giving up family(yes, pets are family). Sacrifices should be "not going to the bar on weekends" "You can't take that ski trip this year because you're needed at work" not "I can't take my mom to her hip surgery because I'll be out of state for 3 weeks"


Posts: 15   +30
James Clarke, CEO of Clearlink, sounds like a ****, who has had it far too easy for far too long. Give these companies nothing more than the absolute minimum, because they'll replace you as soon as you become the smallest inconvenience.


Posts: 613   +1,109
Sounds like a good time to find another job.

And if there really are employees that haven’t opened their laptops in months, they should already have been fired. If not their managers and they should now be fired. But more likely that is a made up exaggeration.


Posts: 699   +954
It's a mistake to assume that someone with the title CEO should always be taken seriously. After all, there are poorly performing companies out there, and plenty of CEOs who probably shouldn't be.

It can take a while, but most employees will eventually reach a point in their careers where they don't have to work for someone like that.


Posts: 46   +41
I cant imagine why nobody wants to work for this company. I wouldnt either.

Companies demand loyalty and expect it while taking as much as possible from their employees with very little incentivization.



Posts: 2,286   +3,994
The most amazing thing is this is a *marketing* company CEO. Who‘d want to hire them, besides Gillette and Anheuser Busch perhaps ?


Posts: 5,319   +7,198
The most amazing thing is this is a *marketing* company CEO. Who‘d want to hire them, besides Gillette and Anheuser Busch perhaps ?
they must be pretty f***ing good at marketing if they can get someone to sell their dog to come work for them


Posts: 202   +249
The most amazing thing is this is a *marketing* company CEO. Who‘d want to hire them, besides Gillette and Anheuser Busch perhaps ?

Top levels of Corporate America are just a modern aristocracy, this man was born into privilege and he will remain in it. They don't really hire for these types of do-nothing jobs from the peasantry. Yes he is so stupid that he doesn't realize that and his mouthing off anyway, but he will be protected.

About the only time I saw the aristocracy turn their backs on someone is Martin Shrekeli, I suspect he wasn't actually of noble birth. Elon Musk they laughed at but he's doing just fine. Trump was a nouveau riche handed wealth by daddy so he probably won't be protected either, but maybe. But he also did a lot worse than this *****.

The greatest fiction the aristocracy purvey are their intelligence followed by their projection on work ethic. Lazy, stupid morons that couldn't think or work their way out of a paper bag.


Posts: 1,588   +1,144
I had no regrets selling my business during Covid - as one of my dogs was getting old and later his heart murmur- started heading to congestive heart failure - so I gave him a great 18 months end of live . TBF I was in a position to retire early no mortgage etc.
What gets me about The USA is so easily send as BS simplistic messaging - you want to help less fortunate you are communist.
You don't want to work 60 hour weeks , take your paid leave you are un American lazy git.
Then you have the work hard and the American dream will be yours BS.
Team player BS .
Workers rights and safety is communism etc

for yRaz about working 80 hours a week must have a short term purpose - eg 2 year slog to buy a house , or finance year long African safari etc

When I was working in London in Finance remember company Tax expert telling me all the money he made meant his special need kid could go to private school with special help - he got up at 5.30 am to commute 90 Minutes on fast train- left office 6-8pm at night. I knew he wanted the best - but I could not bring myself to just say his kids mainly wanted their Dad.


Posts: 5,319   +7,198
for yRaz about working 80 hours a week must have a short term purpose - eg 2 year slog to buy a house , or finance year long African safari etc
I honestly did it for no other reason than societal pressure telling me it was what I was suppose to do. The projects were interesting and there was prestige associated with the job so I pressured myself into it. Look, just don't ****ing do it, that's all I'm saying. I didn't start out working those hours it just ended up that way overtime. And the fact that 4 months after me leaving they are asking me to comeback really says something about their expectations of the job.

Now I work significantly less and turned my hobby into a side business. After only a few months I'm interested to see where my business will be in a year.


Posts: 820   +690
I feel going back to office to work is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on the work and the individual. But I certainly won’t work for this CEO because what he said have 0 empathy. He might as well just get an army of robot to do the work so they can work 24/7 and have no other commitments.


Posts: 2,286   +3,994
they must be pretty f***ing good at marketing if they can get someone to sell their dog to come work for them
That someone is an employee who might really need that job - until they can find another one.

In terms of the general public, this will not have a positive effect and might be used against the company in the future (‘Oh, xyz brand hired the marketing company that hates their employees‘).