The following letter arrived at the Yobeat Home Offices today. It was sent anonymously, and from the postage mark appears to be mailed from Portland, Oregon and not Burlington, Vermont. Regardless, it has no shortage of valid points, so we’ve decided to publish it in full. Since half of Portland is ex-Burton staff, it’s not a surprising origin, however we personally have no idea who wrote it. The transcribed version includes a few grammatical tweaks, but is basically the same as the below image.
Dear Jake and Donna,
There is a growing group of voices gaining volume and strength and it’s time to listen. We’re here to tell you what no one else will. There is a poison inside your company that has driven away countless amazing employees, derailed years of financial success and threatens the core structure and business you have spent an entire lifetime building. All you have to do is look at all the amazing people who have left your organization and what they have accomplished to see all the amazing talent you have lost.
You have two senior “leaders” working for you that have undermined you, your company, and the entire snowboarding industry for close to 15 years. The damage is deepening, and unless you take action soon, the situation will go from bad to dire.
They don’t snowboard, flaunt their wealth in the face of your modestly compensated organization, lead by intimidation and fear, and pursue countless failed projects under the guide of “being core” and “building a lifestyle business,” which benefits no one besides themselves.
Everything they do is to further their own personal agenda and undermine you. There is an old trope in the industry that these people must have some horrendous dirt on you or they would have been walked out the door a long time ago. We don’t believe that, we just believe they have deceived you in plain sight. One of the greatest cons in the history of action sports is going on right inside 80 Industrial Ave. It seems to be obvious to every person in the company and the industry as a whole. We hope you will finally see this for yourselves and make the right decision for your amazing company and the dedicated people that work for you.
Some obvious examples:
- Open Drug use: One of these people allegedly drinks and does drugs in the office, and openly promotes drug use on social media.
- Financial Mismanagement: Multiple reports of a party they threw at the US Open, where damage at a rented condo of over $150,000, was billed back to Burton.
- ‘In’ or ‘Out’ Leadership: People who party with them are ‘in’ and those who don’t are ‘out.’ The ‘out’ people are routinely demoted, marginalized or fired at will. Those that actually have a real legal complaint against them have been swept under the rug with NDA’s and payouts.
- Coachella. One of the dozens of pointless marketing initiatives that have moved Burton further and further away from its core business. These moves have cost Burton millions of dollars, yet have only fueled this duo’s vanity and ego. Have any of these programs been successful or moved the needle for your brand?
- Failed Collaborations: How many “cool guy” product collabs have failed over the years and who lead them?
- Internal facts: An “anonymous” HR survey from two years ago was conducted where employees were afraid to answer honestly for fear of retribution from these two people. When asked offline, the number one problem inside Burton given: “These two people are the single biggest reason Burton is failing.”
- Entourage Syndrome: Their lifestyle has enabled your own vices under the guise of staying core. When you surround yourself by these people you are distanced from the reality on the ground. They only give you information you want to hear by distracting you with “coolness.”
What is at risk?
- Industry leadership: Jake and Donna, you created an entire movement and an industry. Not many people in the world can make that claim. Burton shrinking and/or imploding threatens the entire snowboarding industry.
- Employee Livelihood: As one of the largest employers and economic drivers in Vermont and Burlington, Burton is massively important. The ripple effct of losing your jobs in Vermont would be felt by many businesses and other industries.
- Your personal health: It is obvious that there has been a physical and psychological toll on both of you, and your family.
All of these things make it harder to recruit and retain top talent and will continue to undermine success and profits. Profitability and growth is not only nice, it’s mandatory to keep any company going in the right direction.
Your challenge is to make the change the no one inside your company has had the guts to do. Not previous presidents, not the current CEO, not anyone, because these two people are “untouchable” inside Burton. Only you, Jake and Donna, can make this change, and the time is now. They are ruining your brand, threatening your loyal employees and putting your health at risk.
Get rid of these people immediately. They don’t care about snowboarding, or you. It’s obvious and has been for years. You will see an immediate improvement in morale and productivity the second they are walked out the door.