GoDaddy Gives Employees Christmas Bonus, It Is 'F*ck You'

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GoDaddy, the web hosting company with the worst name ever, broke news to its employees a while back that they wouldn't receive Christmas bonuses. In June, the Arizona-based company had laid off 400 employees. It was a tough year. But a couple weeks ago, it seemed like a Christmas miracle had occurred.

On December 14, about 500 employees received an email informing them that they would receive a $650 holiday bonus.

Happy Holiday GoDaddy! 2020 has been a record year for GoDaddy, thanks to you!

Yay! It feels good to be appreciated.

Though we cannot celebrate together during our annual Holiday Party, we want to show our appreciation and share a $650 one-time Holiday bonus! To ensure that you receive your one-time bonus in time for the Holidays, please select your location and fill in the details by Friday, December 18th.

It turned out, though, that the Grinchy Claus wasn't taking the Christmas tree back to his workshop to fix a busted light, and the Cindy Lou Whos who responded to the email received another, less pleasant one a couple days later.


"You're getting this email because you failed our recent phishing test," the company's chief security officer Demetrius Comes wrote. "You will need to retake the Security Awareness Social Engineering training."

This is worse than the Jelly of the Month Club membership Clark Griswold's company gave instead of actual money. Not only were there no bonuses, but the employees had “failed" a phishing test and would now receive the gift of reeducation. Christmas was no time to let your guard down.

That sucks and it's what a modern-day Scrooge would do just before the three ghosts showed up to tell him he ain't shit.

GoDaddy did experience a data breach earlier this year, which affected 28,000 customers. We get the need to remain vigilant, but the timing was terrible. In September, Tribune Publishing pulled a similar stunt with its many wealthy newspaper employees.

Tribune's test was slightly more defensible because it was in the fall, when bonuses are really given, and the compensation amounts — $5 and $10,000 — were off the charts. Still, it's 2020. Everyone's in a fragile state. This just seems cruel.

GoDaddy later held a town hall where angry employees called out the fake bonus email as especially tone deaf. It doesn't help that this weekend, CEO Aman Bhutani shared his “12 lessons on winning, leadership, and personal success" with Business Insider.

Bhutani stressed the importance of “luck" in a successful career: “You can knock on a lot of doors, but opportunity has to be behind some of them." Luck is probably not why he pulled down $14 million last year — more than enough to give $650 bonuses for real. He sagely notes that the “key to success is do the unexpected," but corporate executives screwing their employees is something most of us would expect.

GoDaddy itself didn't have as bad a year as its staff. It surpassed 20 million customers, which was considered record growth. As of November, GoDaddy added more than a million net new customers in 2020 — the "largest nine-month increase in its net new paying customer base in the company's 23-year history."

Yet GoDaddy still laid off or “reassigned" hundreds of employees in Arizona, Iowa, and Texas, during a pandemic, calling it a “restructuring exercise." Let no crisis go unleveraged.

Seems like they could've afforded actual bonuses for the end of this hell year. Instead the desperate staffers who clicked on the bogus links will kick off 2021 in "Security Awareness Social Engineering" training — GoDaddy's version of The Breakfast Club.

[Daily Mail / Copper Courier / Business Insider]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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