Back in June, Verizon closed a $US4.5 billion ($5.9 billion) merger to swallow Yahoo, agglomerate its legacy AOL brands into the mix, and rename the big mess of memorable (and not so memorable) brands to Oath. The transition has not been terribly smooth for some employees, as evidenced by an exchange during an “Oath: All-In” full company meeting today.
During the Q&A portion of the meeting today an employee asked about transportation benefits for those working out of Sunnyvale – where the company occupies seven different addresses, according to its website. According to three employees, Yahoo holdover and Senior Vice President Jeff Bonforte gave the following reply (emphasis ours):
No more electricity, no more water, the food’s going away, your desks are being wheeled out tomorrow… the underlying message is: “Go fuck yourself.” The alternative message is: “All those rumours are bullshit and fucking relax.” Of course none of that stuff’s going away. We make money on that shit from you guys. How dare you?
While the employees said Bonforte’s response was given in a joking manner, they indicated that the joke disturbed many on staff and came across as insensitive to lower-level employees concerned with their employment benefits. One noted that Bonforte “has a reputation for being crass”, and his response during this meeting was punctuated by uncomfortable laughs, followed by another executive demanding to know, “Where’s the rumour coming from?”
While other employees claimed to have skipped the meeting (and to do so whenever possible), theoretically this was an executive addressing a company of approximately 12,000. It appears to have upset those who bothered to listen in on the meeting, and do little to calm fears around health care, benefits, and other issues arising from the merger.
We reached out to Oath for comment. “The question was with regard to commuter benefits for employees at our Sunnyvale campus, which Oath remains committed to providing. Jeff was speaking entirely in jest,” an Oath spokesperson said.