CEO Posts a Picture of Himself Crying on LinkedIn After Laying Off Employees

Braden Wallake with tears in his eyes
LinkedIn/Braden Wallake

“This will be the most vulnerable thing I'll ever share,” HyperSocial CEO Braden Wallake wrote in a LinkedIn post.

The CEO of a marketing optimization company is facing criticism after posting a picture of himself crying on LinkedIn after announcing he had to lay off some of his employees.

“This will be the most vulnerable thing I'll ever share,” HyperSocial CEO Braden Wallake wrote on the site in his Aug. 9 post, though the post has since been edited.

“Days like today, I wish I was a business owner that was only money driven and didn't care about who he hurt along the way. But I'm not. So, I just want people to see, that not every CEO out there is cold-hearted and doesn't care when he/she have to lay people off. I'm sure there are hundreds and thousands of others like me.” 

Wallake’s post went viral, receiving more than 33,000 interactions in the two days since it was posted. 

The comments sparked discussion about the nature of Wallake’s post. Some applauded the CEO for sharing a vulnerable moment and showing compassion for his employees, but others thought the post was “cringe” and as one person commented was just to share “Fake emotions for likes and exposure.”

On Aug. 10, Wallake told Motherboard that the business had terminated two employees the day before. He conducted one of the layoffs, and as he told Motherboard, watched his "girlfriend turned business partner" terminate the other employee.

Wallake claimed to Motherboard that the two laid-off workers were "over-the-top nice" about it and "assured" him and his business partner that everything would be alright.

According to Motherboard, it was a few hours after then when he decided to post on LinkedIn.

“I was just sitting here at my desk, just kind of crying, I guess, and decided to make the post because I have seen a lot on LinkedIn recently of how awful business owners and CEOs are for laying off their employees and that they're laying off employees while they're getting their third house in the Bahamas or wherever,” Wallake said told Motherboard. 

“I just wanted to kind of put it out there that it's not all just profit-hungry, rich businesses who are making layoffs, and there are normal people behind many layoffs as well,” he told the outlet.

According to its website, HyperSocial is a marketing firm that assists B2B (or business-to-business) organizations in creating sales campaigns and raising brand recognition. HyperSocial focuses mainly on LinkedIn, offering clients LinkedIn outreach services, LinkedIn posting techniques, and LinkedIn profile improvement, according to its website.

Prior to the layoffs, Wallake told Motherboard he tried to make sacrifices by cutting his income from the $250 per week that he had been paying himself to zero. He noted that prior to starting to receive paychecks last year, he had not received any income since rebranding the business in 2019.

“This was a low time in my life,” Wallake told Motherboard. 

“[I] was not attempting to compare my low time to the laid off employees low time, because theirs is much worse. But just to simply share the journey that I am going through personally as a business owner in the current world.”

Wallake told Motherboard that he agreed that the photo was cringeworthy. 

Wallake claimed that despite the harsh feedback he received, he was encouraged to see other business owners respond by expressing interest in maybe employing the laid-off workers, Motherboard reported.

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