“Getting fired sucks. We're scared because none of us has much in the way of savings,” reads the statement, signed by eight former GOOD staffers. “(On a related note, we're worried about our health. Burritos and Tecate are cheap. Coconut kale smoothies are not.)”
Getting fired does suck. Especially when your former employer admits that they fired you and your co-workers largely on a whim (or for “strategic reasons” as an internal memo from GOOD founder Ben Goldhirsh, reproduced below, puts it) and when that same employer posts a video of you, filmed before your termination, thanking the company's 200,000th Facebook friend the very next business day.
Injury, meet insult.
GOOD magazine was founded in 2006 as a magazine for “people who give a damn.” It was a passion project for founder Ben Goldhirsh. Just 26 at the time, Goldhirsh had inherited a $200 million fortune when his father, Inc. magazine founder Bernie Goldhirsh, passed away in 2003. “A free press for the critical idealist,” the inaugural issue proclaimed — and accepted a donation to charity in lieu of a subscription fee.
Six years later, GOOD has launched a beta site online suggesting it wants to reinvent itself as “the platform for 21st Century citizenship.”
But on Friday, GOOD fired most of its editorial staff. And those staffers apparently have no plans to disperse.
“We loved making a daily web magazine and a quarterly print magazine with and for GOOD's community of readers and writers and designers and illustrators,” the former staffers' manifesto, published today, reads. “We think we were pretty good at it. And we know we didn't get a chance to realize the full potential of our collaboration. We were just getting started!
“So we'd like to make at least one more magazine together. Not an issue of GOOD — something different. We're calling it Tomorrow.”
More details about the venture will be available later this week, according to the statement, which is signed by former executive editor Ann Friedman, former business editor Tim Fernholz, former managing editor Megan Greenwell, former lifestyle editor Amanda Hess, former senior editor Cord Jefferson and former associate editor Nona Willis Aronowitz, as well as former editorial design director Dylan C. Lathrop and former assistant editor Zak Stone (both of whom reportedly quit yesterday following their colleagues' terminations).
Good on them, we say. Especially considering the ham-fisted manner with which the company handled the firings — tweeting about DIY beauty products, Purina dog food, and “three companies [that] add impact to your empty calories” before finally, at 8 p.m., addressing the firing of almost all its editorial staff earlier that morning:
Today was a big & difficult one. We lost great people as we evolve our platform to better serve you. Stay tuned, #GOOD things are ahead.
— GOOD(@GOOD) June 2, 2012
Just as bad, yesterday, the first business day since the firings, GOOD posted a video featuring two of the six fired staffers, Amanda Hess and Cord Jefferson, celebrating the company's 200,000th Facebook friend.
GOOD co-founder Casey Caplowe attempted to address the changes with statement posted on the site yesterday afternoon:
“GOOD has always been a work in progress, and even as creating and spreading awesome content by amazing people will continue to be a critical part of what we do, this was a step we felt was important to take as we pursue a refined strategy to inform, connect, and empower the community of people who give a damn.”
GOOD's original slogan was “A magazine for people who give a damn.” Recently though, that slogan had been replaced with “A collaboration of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits pushing the world forward” — a nod, perhaps, to the company's increasing reliance on corporate sponsorships, e.g. the site's education section, which is sponsored by for-profit University of Phoenix. (Education editor Liz Dwyer is, for the record, the only editorial staffer left at GOOD.)
Earlier Monday, founder Ben Goldhirsh sent out the following memo, obtained by Atlantic Wire, by way of explanation to remaining employees.
it's monday. about to head out to Sustainable Brands. but wanted to engage all after I spoke to a few folks individually who raised some thoughts/questions/concerns about what occurred last week. namely, was the company in any sort of trouble/should they worry about their jobs, and were these decisions made with deliberation. On the first matter, wanted to give everyone the heads up that we're doing well. We're profitable through the first half of the year, and this is probably one of the first times in the company's history where layoffs were made not because of financial pressure, but for strategic reasons. And this brings me to the second question on deliberation. Layoffs are a really tough call to make. And frankly, it's easier to make them when financial pressure is the catalyst. But that wasn't the case here. This was about the direction of the business and the path to manifesting the very exciting potential ahead. Furthermore, this was a decision that was discussed at length, and included the opinions of every team at the company. At the end of the day, the path forward requires some new roles and perspectives, and this meant that some roles got eliminated. While that's hard. It's also right. Right for our business, and frankly right for the folks who are great at those roles, and who deserve to be at a place where those roles are fundamental to strategy. I know Casey is planning to dive into the path forward in depth at the coming all-hands, but did want to take the moment now to reach out as digging into it in these individual discussions was valuable and I wanted to share with all. Anyhow, hope you're all doing well. I'm really proud that we made the tough decision here, have put the turmoil behind us, and I'm so stoked about all that lies ahead. Hopefully you are as well, and definitely feel free to reach out to me if you ever want to discuss.
Former executive editor Ann Friedman, meanwhile, posted a note this afternoon about both GOOD and Tomorrow, complete with contact information of former staffers for the benefit of any employers looking to treat them better.