Aug 11, 2022 - Economy

Crying CEO selfie goes viral on LinkedIn, sparks debate on messaging

Screenshot: Braden Wallake/LinkedIn

A CEO's post about his own feelings from a recent round of layoffs, which featured a selfie of him with tear-stained eyes, has gone viral on LinkedIn.

Why it matters: There's been a growing number of CEOs posting about company layoffs on the professional networking platform, according to LinkedIn.

  • "They’re being more transparent than ever on their take on business trends, sensitive company news, and their own advice on leading," Andrei Santalo, LinkedIn's Head of Community Management, previously told Axios Communicators author Eleanor Hawkins.

Catch up quick: "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," Braden Wallake of Hypersocial wrote in a post earlier this week.

  • The post generated more than 41,000 reactions and comments in two days, ranging mostly from support and empathy to bewilderment and disgust.

The big picture: The post comes amid (and refers to) an increase in layoff announcements in the U.S. — with executives frequently citing "macroeconomic" challenges and uncertainties among reasons.

  • There was a 36% increase in announced job cuts in July compared to last year, recent data from outplacement firm Challenger Gray shows.

In Wallake's post, he said specifically that his "few" layoffs were due to his own mistakes.

  • "And because of those failings, I had to do today, the toughest thing I've ever had to do," he said.

Among the most popular comments to his post: "Why not decrease your own salary/overall comp in order to keep your employees?" one person wrote.

  • "This is to gain sympathy I am assuming, which in itself is wrong, as the sympathy should be with those let go ... It's not about you," wrote another.

Wallake himself responded to the backlash: "[M]y intent was not to make it about me or victimize myself. I am sorry it came across that way," he wrote Wednesday.

  • "What I want to do now, is try to make better of this situation and start a thread for people looking for work," he added — echoing some of the comments saying he could use this viral moment to do some good.

Of note: Wallake's company HyperSocial specializes in helping businesses grow through LinkedIn content.

  • Which leads us to this thought bubble: It doesn't matter what any of us, including his employees, thinks about his post. He knew exactly what he was doing — the CEO equivalent of Gal Gadot singing to soothe people during the pandemic.
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