Dylan Smith

The Revolutin’ will not be ostracised

Everyone wants to talk about ethics in tech but not as much as they want free stickers.

Revolut, yet another one of those London bank-in-an-app startups, has had a bad week.

Tech news sites published articles at the end of February detailing the company’s toxic culture: evening and weekend work as standard; recruiting users as an interview stage; CEO threatening firings via Slack. It’s all there.

Then their CFO resigned over a money laundering scandal. They sent a push notification asking users [in jest, I think] to save their jobs by leaving positive reviews. Now they’re being investigated for fraud.

Screenshot of Google News results for Revolut
Google News search results for ‘Revolut’

All the bad press prompted designer Alex Manthei to survey a community of London designers about which local tech companies they would work for. Only 3 of 78 respondents included Revolut, which tracks with the ongoing run of Revolut jokes and outrage shown by the same group. (Spotify topped the list at 60. You can read Alex’s analysis on Medium.)

Here’s where it gets complicated:

There’s a meetup tonight. At Revolut’s office. A Revolut employee is speaking. And many members of that design community are attending.

Why the fuck are the same people who’ve been shitting on Revolut all week going to their place for dinner and drinks? Why are the local speakers not dropping off the bill? Why isn’t anyone walking the walk?

(Note: The organiser booked and announced the event before all this came to light, had a speaker flying in from another country, and attempted to find a different venue. I’d like to think I would have cancelled in his shoes, but I have sympathy for his predicament.)

When I put my questions to the group, people defended the attendees, the speakers, and Revolut employees:

Frankly, that’s not good enough. It reeks of deference. By attending, you send the message that you don’t really care how Revolut operates or treats their staff. By speaking, you legitimise their event and get people into their office. By working there, you tell the company and the rest of us that you support them, whether you contribute directly to these problems or not.

Find your spines, designers. Standing up for what you believe is right is always a good look.

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