Hi, I’m Matt Turner, the editor in chief of business at Insider. Welcome back to Insider Weekly, a roundup of some of our top stories.
I want to start by wishing you all a happy holiday season and New Year. 2022 was another year for the history books. The biggest military attack since WWII. Historic inflation across much of the Western World. One of the biggest financial scandals of all time.
Through it all, hundreds of thousands of you have opened this email and spent a little time with me each weekend. Thank you for reading. It’s a privilege to be in your inbox every week.
On the agenda today:
- Silicon Valley founders want to emulate Elon Musk’s Twitter crackdown.
- Inside the nonstop partying and self-destruction at Pollen, a music startup once worth $800 million.
- One unexpected fallout from remote work: a huge surge in whistleblower complaints.
- Goldman Sachs insiders fear widespread departures — and some are blaming David Solomon.
From the moment Elon Musk took control of Twitter, he has been moving fast, breaking things, and sparking outcry. This past week, he said he’d step down as CEO after a Twitter poll found most respondents wanted him to.
Through it all, one group has been quietly cheering on the CEO from the sidelines.
For many Silicon Valley founders, Musk’s approach to his Twitter takeover makes him a visionary. His “hardcore” approach to cost-cutting and efficiency is a stark contrast to the Silicon Valley norm of lavish benefits and coddled workers — and tech execs see it as a blueprint to emulate at their own companies.
In May 2019, Pollen CEO Callum Negus-Fancey walked through the woods, grinning as he sprayed Fireball into his employees’ mouths out of a fake fire extinguisher. About 400 Pollen employees were camped out for five days to celebrate the UK-based events and travel company.
Three years later, Pollen’s parent company went bankrupt. About 430 employees were let go without their final paychecks. As of July 20, Pollen and its subsidiaries owed customers $8 million in refunds, according to an internal spreadsheet obtained by Insider.
From the outside, Pollen’s collapse was a shock. But according to 31 former Pollen employees, the implosion was years in the making. Many Pollen operated a little too much like its festivals: Drugs were often present, and heavy drinking and partying seemed to be part of the job description.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has seen a historic jump in complaints to its whistleblower program over the past few years: The program broke the record again this fiscal year with over 12,300 tips — a 136% increase from 2019. And this surge may not be a coincidence.
As the pandemic spread and workers retreated to their makeshift home offices, employees began to reconsider their relationship with work. The space between employer and employee helped many people come to terms with the malfeasance happening at their companies and, eventually, report it.
There’s a sour mood at Goldman Sachs — and some of the blame is being pinned on CEO David Solomon. The news that bonuses are expected to fall across Wall Street doesn’t seem too surprising amid rising interest rates and sluggish dealmaking.
But at Goldman, dozens of insiders say that resentment is brewing because Solomon isn’t doing more to punish money-losing teams — and it could lead to a wave of defections from the bank’s top ranks.
This week’s quote:
“It’s kind of amusing when I hear buyers’ pessimism about the market, and how they want to hold out for a great deal in a year from now. It’s unrealistic. I’ve been in this game a long time, and those people always lose out.”
- “Selling Sunset” star Jason Oppenheim on his best advice for homebuyers.
More of this week’s top reads:
- How Delish’s hit YouTube show “Budget Eats” came crashing down.
- Nike employees described “sloppy drunk” men and witnessing oral sex in newly unsealed surveys.
- Wall Street landlords are lying in wait for their biggest American home-buying spree yet — and they’ve stockpiled $110 billion.
- Black women are leaving corporate America to launch their own businesses, creating a hole for talent across industries.
- The cushy perks of tech work are rapidly disappearing.
- Investors named 33 healthcare and biotech startups that they expect to take off in 2023.
- Tech recruiters from Meta and Microsoft share their best advice for laid-off workers.
- See inside the Ocean Endeavor, a ship that sails to Antarctica. Rooms can go for over $10,000.
Curated by Matt Turner. Edited by Jordan Parker Erb, Hallam Bullock, and Lisa Ryan. Sign up for more Insider newsletters here.