Shameless PR Stunt: WeTransfer Boss Offers $10k to Laid-off SoundCloud Employees


Earlier this month beleaguered music-streaming platform SoundCloud laid off 173 workers (40 percent of its workforce) and shuttered its London and San Francisco offices. In a blog post co-founder Alexander Ljung wrote, “By reducing our costs and continuing our revenue growth, we’re on our path to profitability and in control of SoundCloud’s independent future.”

Shortly after technology media site TechCrunch published a scathing article about SoundCloud, countering many of the company’s assertions about its self-imposed austerity.

Sources told TechCrunch that founders Alex Ljung and Eric Wahlforss confessed the layoffs only saved the company enough money to have runway “until Q4.” It also painted a picture where staffers were kept in the dark about the drastic cuts.

SoundCloud quickly clapped back in a blog post: “The music you love on SoundCloud isn’t going away, the music you shared or uploaded isn’t going away, because SoundCloud is not going away. Not in 50 days, not in 80 days or anytime in the foreseeable future. Your music is safe.”

In an open letter published on Medium, WeTransfer President Damian Bradfield has inserted himself and his company into the conversation about SoundCloud.

Claiming a conversation with a journalist that touched on Hire a SoundClouder — a public spreadsheet shows the names, professions, and locations of people who have lost their jobs at SoundCloud — he came up with the idea of giving each of the dismissed employees $10,000 to not get a new job:

What if each and every one of them had been offered ten thousand dollars to refrain from getting a job? To leave and start something. To leave and start working on the new future of music, whatever that might be.

Bradfield then went on to pat himself on the back for his other philanthropic efforts:

We give away annually 30% of all our advertising inventory to support the arts. Over the past year that’s resulted in five billion impressions. (At $30 cpm, you can do the math). We’ve funded scholarships at Central Saint Martins in London, financed films for the likes of FKA Twigs, helped commission art installations for Kamasi Washington, launched a radio station, Worldwide FM with Gilles Peterson, as well as a university, The University of the Underground with Nelly Ben Hayoun.

Bradfield’s offer is self-serving and completely ridiculous for two reasons: 1. While I am not sure about the tax law in the UK, a US resident would have to pay tax on the $10,000, roughly $33 percent. 2. Those ex-SoundCloud staffers live in some of the costliest cities in the world to live. $10,000 isn’t a lot of cash to float you as you chase your startup dream.

I’ve used WeTransfer for years without knowing much about the company or its president, but maybe ignorance was bliss. Trying to get coveted media “impressions” under the guise of helping people who’ve been given a raw deal is completely disingenuous and rails against the morals Bradfield claims are in his company’s DNA.

Seriously, eff this guy and his money.

Darren Ressler

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