What just happened? Linus Media Group (LMG), the company behind the incredibly popular YouTube tech channel Linus Tech Tips and several others, has announced in an apology video that it is pausing production of all content for a week as it makes internal changes following claims of unethical behavior, errors in their testing, and sexual harassment.
Linus Tech Tips and its associated channels' fall began with a lab tour video in which an assistant said "the difference between us and somebody like Gamers Nexus or Hardware Unboxed is we test new components, new tests every time."
Our own Steve Walton from Hardware Unboxed responded with tweets noting that, based on his 20+ years of experience, telling everyone how good your testing is generally means your testing isn't very good. He said hearing an employee make the statement was "very disappointing."
If you have to tell everyone how good your testing is, in my 20+ years of experience that generally means your testing isn't very good. Your work speaks for itself guys, that's how you build credibility.– Hardware Unboxed (@HardwareUnboxed) August 2, 2023
Gamers Nexus' Steve Burke, who previously seemed to have a good relationship with LMG founder Linus Sebastian, went a bit further, creating a 44-minute response video that highlighted problems with LMG focusing on quantity over quality and rushing out videos, hardware review errors, asterisked errors, and ethical concerns such as Sebastian's investment in laptop company Framework. But the biggest criticism was reserved for a review of a prototype watercooling block called the Monoblock from Billet Labs.
The Monoblock was meant to be tested with Nvidia RTX 3090 GPUs, but LTT tested it on an RTX 4090. Billet Labs said the block would work with the Lovelace flagship, but it "didn't know how well." The result was subpar performance.
"The best-case scenario for this thing is, the temps are slightly better [than other coolers]," Sebastian said. "But the experience of building with it is a nightmare, and the advantages over literally any other solution are negligible."
More was to come. Burke also called out LMG for auctioning off the prototype, which Billet Labs said was worth about $2,550, to raise money for charity – without the manufacturer's permission.
Sebastian wrote a lengthy response to the Gamers Nexus video that admitted LMG had some work to do on internal processes. As for the Billet Labs video, Sebastian said he "read the room wrong" by not retesting the cooler even though some members of his team advocated for it. As for auctioning off the Monoblock, Sebastian said it was a communications error between the team responsible for sending it back and the people choosing the items to be auctioned.
Burke addressed Linus' comments in a Gamers Nexus news segment, calling them "disappointing nonsense." It's also clear that most of the community has been on Gamers Nexus' side during all this.
LMG's full response is the 20-minute video (top) featuring the company's executives, including recently appointed CEO Terren Tong and Sebastian himself, who is now Chief Vision Officer. There are plenty of admissions that errors have been made, and that Sebastian's initial response was emotionally driven. He also claims that the company tried to correct the Billet Labs situation before everyone knew about it. The entire channel is now pausing production for an entire week to address the issues.
The apology video has received criticism for its occasional humorous tone, having an LTT Store plug, and the fact it was monetized, though the monetization has now been turned off following "feedback from the community and team."
Adding to the controversy is former employee Madison Reeve, who has accused LMG of fostering a toxic work environment, sexual harassment from employees, and ruining her mental health. Reeve also said the company barred her from videos after she reported being grabbed multiple times in the office.
Sebastian responded to the allegation in a statement to The Verge:
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.
CEO Tong added that beyond an internal review, the company will be hiring a third-party investigator to look into the allegations.