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Alexey Yelenevych
Co-Founder at CodeGym

World’s Worst Tech Employers. What Companies You Don’t Want to Work For?

Published in the Random group
Recently we have started a series of articles on the best tech companies to work for in different countries. So far, we have covered the best tech employers in the U.S., the UK, Germany, and Poland. But giving so much attention to the companies that have best reputations, best employee benefits and most positive reviews, we thought maybe companies on the other end of this spectre also deserve some of your attention. After all, there are companies you want to join and there are ones you would prefer not to, right? So today we are going to talk about tech companies that are most famous for being hated by many people and having a bad reputation.World’s Worst Tech Employers. What Companies You Don’t Want to Work For? - 1

Most hated tech giants

Seems like you can’t avoid talking about the American tech giants no matter if it’s an article about the best employers in tech or about the worst ones. As you may know, lots of people tend to hate or just dislike the American tech behemoths, each member of the Big Five list, which is Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft (with Netflix lately often being considered as a new member of this club). So it should come as no surprise that each member of the ‘Big Five’ would have made it to the top of tech companies with worst reputations. The only question that is left is: who would be the winner? If we had to make a top 5 list of the most hated American tech giants, here is how we would place them.

5. Microsoft

Let’s be honest, the software giant never had such a spotless reputation. For years and decades, Microsoft is hated by many people around the world for various reasons: launching low-quality, unfinished, and just plain defective products to the market (hi, Windows Vista), acquiring and slowly murdering previously great products (hi, Skype), willingness to collaborate with authoritarian regimes (Microsoft’s research branch in China had worked on three A.I. research papers for the military. The research topics included facial recognition, which could help the Chinese government monitor and oppress its citizens), and loads of other things. But, being objective here, we have to say that in recent years Microsoft’s reputation has been more on an improving side. As Mark Hurst, tech journalist and author, said, lately Microsoft makes a lot of effort to present itself as “the kinder, friendlier, Big Tech giant.” It’s not like they manage to fool anybody, but among other tech behemoths, these days Microsoft probably is the least hated one. Good job, software giant!

4. Amazon

Today Amazon is an undisputed leader in North America’s online retail, but the company is also doing business in resale, meal delivery, cloud computing, video streaming, and a number of other niches all around retail and tech. So it should come as no surprise that in the U.S, Amazon can easily compete for the crown of the most hated tech giant. Jeff Bezos’s company is widely criticized for its ‘last mile’ shipping operations, which has led to multiple burnouts, injuries and deaths among its employees, who are mostly working for a minimum wage. Not only that, Amazon is also heavily criticised for paying little to no income taxes to the U.S. federal budget and looking for even more tax-breaks when conducting a very public search for a second headquarters. But since Amazon is hated mostly just in North America, 4th place only.

3. Facebook

Facebook, on the other hand, in recent years has been actively gaining weight, so to speak, as one of the most hated tech giants globally. Mostly Facebook is being criticized for how it handles user data, as well as fake news, hate speech and all kinds of political content. All kinds of data breaches and privacy scandals have also affected Mark Zuckerberg’s reputation. In public consciousness, the founder of Facebook has turned from a charming robot-like nerd who accidently created the world’s most popular social network while trying to get laid in college into just another tech billionaire, who’s main concern is profits above anything else. This puts Facebook on the 3d spot in our little top.

2. Google/Alphabet

The ultimate Internet giant, Google has eloquently dropped it’s famous ‘Don’t Be Evil’ slogan in 2015, and they did it for a good reason. From an innovative company trying to make the world a little bit better Google became just another giant corporation, fighting for market dominance and focused on increasing revenue at any costs. In recent years Google/Alphabet went through a number of scandals, from its employees protesting against Google working on Pentagon’s drone AI program and censoring Chinese search engine, to shutting down internal dissent and discussion at its famous TGIF all-company meeting.

1. Apple

But when it comes to the most hated tech company in the world, Apple is definitely the champion. The American consumer electronics maker is hated (as well as loved, let’s acknowledge that) all around the world for a long time and passionately, especially since the beginning of the iPhone era. There are so many reasons to hate Apple that describing everything would take the whole article, maybe not even one. Here are just a few major reasons we decided to give Apple the top spot: leveraging cheap labor in China and relying on third-party Chinese contractors with worst reputations, such as Foxconn (this company has a whole Wikipedia page devoted to the epidemic of suicides among its employees exclusively), very active “patent bullying”, consistently decreasing quality of their products, overinflated end-product prices, and, of course, all American tech giants’ favourite gig: helping authoritarian governments to spy on its citizens. Money definitely doesn't stink for companies like Apple.

Other tech companies with worst reputation

There are more than enough well-hated tech companies with questionable reputations besides the Big Five, of course. They can be infamous for numerous reasons, such as toxic corporate culture, controversial business models, active participation in politics, abusing employees and other nasty stuff. Having so many different criteria to judge upon makes it almost impossible to make a more or less objective rating, so here’s just a number of companies that in our opinion deserve to make it to such a list.

  • Oracle

Oracle, current Java’s happy parent (Oracle acquired Java in 2010), gets quite a lot of criticism over its copyright policies and employee treatment. The biggest reputation-crashing scandal for Oracle is the copyright battle against Google, when Oracle sued Google for infringing copyright in the Java API. According to Cory Doctorow, famous tech journalist, “Oracle’s mission to copyright APIs is a terrifying example of the worst kind of tech issue: something totally boring and esoteric and simultaneously incredibly important.” Well-said. Right now Oracle is going through its biggest round of layoffs in over ten years, which is another major factor damaging this company’s reputation. “Oracle is now a next-gen cloud company and everyone in sales who is not cloud savvy will no longer have a job,” according to the reports.

  • Salesforce

Salesforce is mostly being chastised for extremely demanding and harsh corporate culture. Here’s one anonymous employee review of the company: “Working here is like being in a cult. You are expected to dedicate your life to the cause 24-7, on weekends and vacation. People swear and shout all the time because of stress and frustration. Age discrimination abounds with seasoned professionals being passed over for promotions in favor of younger millennials.”

  • IBM

IBM is a company that should definitely get a spot in any list of the worst tech businesses in the world just for infamously supplying punch card technology to nazis and enthusiastically helping them to organize and facilitate the Holocaust. A lot of time passed since then, but IBM didn’t get any better. Awful treatment of employees, secretly stealing user’s private data, constant layoffs, and major strategic focus on tax evasion: IBM is a deeply toxic company that seems to be getting even worse.

  • Uber

The world’s largest taxi-hailing app is also not without a sin, to say least. Over its rather brief history (the company was founded in 2009) Uber has been accused in lots of things: secretly stealing personal data and breaching privacy rules, toxic corporate bro-culture, creating an extremely unfair business model where Uber treats non-employee workers like customers, and a number of other things. “It’s hard to think of a company that has shown more disdain for governmental authority, or for the safety and welfare of its drivers, riders, and employees,” said Lindsey Barrett, a professor from Georgetown University Law Center.

  • Tencent / Baidu

And for the final one, we probably should mention Tencent and Baidu as two giants of the Chinese Internet. Baidu, as the biggest in China search engine, works basically as a censorship tool directly in line with the Communist Party of China’s policies. Tencent is the owner of WeChat, China’s most popular messaging app (has more than 1.25 billion monthly users), and it does pretty much the same thing: censoring its content and fully collaborating with the communist government of China in terms of sharing their user’s data.
Comments (3)
Joe M Level 47, Owings Mills, United States
15 December 2020
Excellent article Alexey. There is a lot of good content here, and this article deserves its place.
Daniel Tinsley Level 22, United States, United States
10 November 2020
Good article, but it could have used a bit more proofreading before posting. There are a few spelling mistakes in this.