Not Cool, GoDaddy

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I’ve been out of my last job for about five months now, after collecting dust for over six years, helping rich people get richer while I continued to panic about high electricity bills.

I’m grateful for the experience. I really am. GoDaddy made it so I can move back to Israel. So that I could be with my children again. So that I could successfully make it back to this insane country, meet my amazing wife, find the perfect dog, and go skydiving a couple of times.

But one must wonder, especially after being let go and replaced with a handful of bargain Filipinos, when does my grace, patience, and gratefulness come to an end? When do I let out my frustrations at how everything unceremoniously finished?

Well… the real answer is in another seven months. There’s basically a clause in my severance agreement that says one cannot say cruddy things about the company for twelve months after being let go.

And I will respect that agreement… to an extent.

The Early Email Check

But I was recently doing some research about the company, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of a story from a couple of years ago, a story that’s been told. But not anywhere near enough. I was shocked to even find out it left the walls of the company. That anyone out there cared. And now that I know, I’m actually surprised people don’t mention it to me whenever I say I used to work for GoDaddy.

So there I was, cracking open my laptop to start yet another incredible day of work.

I checked my email, as one often does when they get their workday going.

Boy was I giddy to find a lovely email from the company. You see, GoDaddy has an annual company party. The classic type, where they spare no expense, get as many employees together, wine and dine everyone, and give out gifts galore. Since I lived thousands of miles away from this gathering, I never had the opportunity to attend, but I was aware they were a piece of the company’s culture.

But times were different.

The Gift

It was 2020. People weren’t partying. They were sitting in their living rooms hoping the Covid monsters weren’t going to come around and ruin their week.

It was a dark year. A year of misery and boredom. But thankfully, in all moments of darkness, there is something to shine a bright light onto your day. That something for me was an email, from out of nowhere, from my employers at GoDaddy.

I’m about to start work, so I did what I did every morning. I got the basics out of the way. Any updates? Important emails? Messages to me on Slack?

And there was the diamond of emails. GoDaddy sent a bulk message to all of its thousands of employees. The company feels terrible that it won’t be able to do its annual festivities this year, due to the global pile of crap we were all facing. But to make it up to all of us, we would be getting a $650 bonus to thank us for a great year.

Bait and Switch

All we had to do was click a link to verify something and boom, our holiday season would have a little more cheer than otherwise anticipated. I started my work that day with a giant smile on my face. Feeling so blessed that I worked for such an incredible and thoughtful company.

I worked when the vast majority of the company was fast asleep, so I was one of the first people who would even get to see this lovely gem of an electronic communication.

Or so it seemed to me.

Later on that day, it was revealed that the email was fake, created by the company to look genuine. The purpose of the email was not to brighten our lives, but to test us to see our discerning eyes. It was a work-generated phishing scam. There was no holiday bonus. My reward for enthusiastically checking my email at an ungodly hour? I would now need to take a class in social engineering, to study about my inability to detect that I was being manipulated by someone.

No money.

No bonus.

No lovely sentiment.

Just a test.

A stupid, manipulative, and cruel test.

The Problem

Now, it’s not unheard of for a company to be concerned with cyber security. They might offer or even require training. And yeah, some might occasionally do something harmless to test some employees.

But there are a number of problems very specific to this situation.

First and foremost, punishing some and ignoring the others is silly, shortsighted, and accomplishes very, very little.

Here’s what happened that day. Hundreds of employees excitedly opened their email and clicked the link. Why would we be getting a work email that looks like any other in a style we’re all familiar with promising something that made logical sense? (about 1000 times more sophisticated than most phishing attempts… yeah, I’m looking at you Nigerian prince)

Then, upon realizing the ruse, those hundreds of people went and told the other several thousand co-workers who had not yet checked their emails what had happened and warned them not to open the email or click the link.

So yes, a billion-dollar company with a sophisticated scam to figure out which employees are vulnerable to social engineering… yet no one in the committee that devised this winner thought it through enough to realize that 80% of their recipients would be warned in advance… nor did they care. They just continued as planned. And punished those who actually read their emails.

Dick Move, GoDaddy

But I think the salient point here is the financial promise is really what makes everything here come under the special category of ultra-dick move.

Life is hard.

It comes with new and bizarre challenges at every turn. And sometimes it feels borderline hopeless.

We now forget what the days of Corona were like. We were bored. We were stir crazy. We hoped and prayed that something–anything–would come along and pull the world from its terrible funk.

And anything that happened along the way with even a shred of positivity felt like it was bestowed upon us by God himself.

Promising a small break in a giant flood of financial woes, a small window to ease the burden of a difficult and painful existence, only to snatch it away and say, “Actually, your year just got a little worse”… well, I don’t envy the flames the person who made that decision will burn in.

Dick move, GoDaddy. Seriously, super dick move.

We now forget what the days of Corona were like. We were bored. We were stir crazy. We hoped and prayed that something--anything--would come along and pull the world from its terrible funk. Click To Tweet

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