Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.

What kind of place do you want to work at?

Stardock’s a pretty fun place to work.  We have almost no turn over and morale is pretty high.  It is, however, a nerdy place. That means there’s lots of references to Monty Python, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Robot Chicken that sometimes float around.  That is to say, it's not a place for everyone. When we interview people, we make some effort to make sure people know that Stardock is a silly place.  People bring their dogs to work. There are nerf-gun fights. We have a nutritionist come in to help show people (those who want to anyway) how to prepare healthier lunches. We have a personal trainer come in to give classes.  It is, in short, a pretty silly, fun, and unusual place.

And we like it that way.

Some people may find TV show references or jokes told around the office to be “vulgar” or “sexist” or what have you. How they personally understand these jokes is their right. And if a person has a specific problem with someone talking around them about it, then I think people should make a best case effort to not upset that individual. People have rights in the workplace and they should be respected.

Where I draw the line, however, is someone telling us (or me ) that we need to not talk about those things in general. That is, not just when they’re around but even when they’re not around. 

And my response to that is basically – this place may not be for you then – find another job.

The rights of the individual and the rights of the group

To use an example, we had someone who hated the word "fart". Don't ask me why. They just didn't like that word. So around that person, people didn't use that word.  However, they don't have the right to insist that the word "fart" not be used at work at all. 

I would like to think most reasonable people would understand that. But even if they don’t, I would think they would agree that it’s not acceptable wipe out company IP on the way out and file a frivolous “hostile work environment” lawsuit.  If a company's culture is incompatible with you, then the best thing to do is to find another job. Part ways amicably. Don't get angry or bitter. Don't let it take you to such a dark place where you feel justified suing your employer and destroying their property. 


Ever since [Redacted] publicly released selected (and one-sided) documents of her lawsuit against us, we've gotten a lot of negative and frankly, unfair publicity.  More than that, I've received numerous death threats (which included a call to the police), my personal information released online, google maps directions to my house posted, my children harassed, etc. 

None of the people calling for my head (both literally and figuratively) know anything about the situation.  Neither I, nor anyone on our staff, has behaved inappropriately to [Redacted].  Moreover, not only are people of all races, sexes and orientations treated equally here but our management team is extremely diverse -- not because we promote based on race/sex but precisely because we don't.

I would be willing to wager that Stardock has more women in leadership positions as a percent of positions than most technology companies.  We hire the best. [Redacted] was an outstanding employee. She was very talented at marketing and PR. A skill she was very well aware of as this ordeal began with a letter from her lawyer implying that if we didn't pay her off, she'd use her marketing skills to generate a lot of negative coverage of her -- a threat she has since made good on.

Two sides to the story

Unlike [Redacted], I am responsible not just for my own welfare but those of my coworkers. I don't have the luxury to lash out and do a document dump even though doing so would demonstrate just how ridiculous, spiteful and frivolous her case is. However, one day this case will be over. At which point I will be free to give more detail into her claims and the context they were made in.  I hope that the media, that as so quick to vilify me, will be just as eager to talk to me when we are exonerated.  

What I will say is that I hope when we are exonerated that those who reflexively sided with [Redacted] will, in the future, choose to withhold judgment until they have seen all the facts when they see sensationalist journalism. I will say I've been surprised and disappointed in seeing many people I thought had better judgment quickly assume the worst about me despite having run a successful company for almost two decades. We are a technology company in which fewer than 2 people, on average, voluntarily leave per year (this in a company of >50 people) is rare. [Redacted] was the first female employee, in almost 20 years, to voluntarily leave our company.  This in a company whose COO is female, its financial controller is female, its lead developer is female, its marketing manager is female, its lead artist is female, and on and on. Stardock is many things but it is not a boy's club.

Sometimes one party is totally wrong

People tend to want to see "both sides". Sometimes, however, one party is completely wrong and in this case, that party is [Redacted]  Like millions of people every day, she got angry with her boss for things that had nothing to do with whether she was a man or a woman. But unlike most people, she chose to make use of the legal system and a sympathetic media to try to get a pound of flesh. Her first act was to write us a letter demanding, in essence, that we pay her off lest she try to make us look bad in public. We have this letter.

When we didn't give into her demands, she ultimately sued us. First she stated it was because of "constructive discharge". Then she added hostile work environment. Then she added sexual harassment. And then she added, I kid you not, "battery" (because I touched her hair once at a social gathering months before she departed).

The problem for her and those who think what she did is ethical or acceptable behavior, is that our legal system doesn't exist for people to "teach someone a lesson" for making her mad. Instead of simply finding a place to work that she might find more enjoyable, she decided to abuse the legal system. And, for reasons I still find baffling, wiped out our marketing assets (on a side note, I remain amazed at how many supposedly computer literate people out there have suggested that our lawsuit against her was done as "retaliation" given the ease of proving what/when/how she did what she did - we have the logs, we have the forensics. It's trivial to prove).

In my opinion, [redacted] and people like her do great harm to our business climate. Her message seems to be: Conform to my narrow view on how the workplace should be or I will take advantage of being a "protected class" and make you pay for it - either through legal costs or through public release of hand-picked, one-sided court documents to damage you in the public.

What is your honor worth?

Most companies would have paid her off to make it go away. We have insurance, I had to explicitly waive that insurance in order to ensure that the case wasn't settled (because insurance companies just do a cost/benefit ratio). What is ironic, is if she had asked for some severance package before she left, I would have given it to her.  But because she chose to fabricate allegations against me I will fight tooth and nail against that. 

Some specifics

At this stage I am still somewhat limited in what I can say publicly.  What I can say is that not only was there zero behavior directed towards her that a reasonable person could consider "sexual harassment" but there was no behavior that a reasonable person would even consider inappropriate.  I never sent her a "purity test", I never asked her any "personal" questions (she makes numerous false allegations of this nature). Every witness, including her friends, have collaborated our version of events and rejected hers.  Her case is frivolous and this will end only one way: It will be be dismissed.

The only thing they have is my insulting email to her in response to her insubordinate email to me which was written without any consideration of her sex. And I make no apologies for my email. I am sure it causes some people fainting spells but where I come from, you do not email your boss's boss a patronizing "with these behavior modifications we can get along" email and not either get fired on the spot or reamed

Update: Redacted her name, edits.

Comments (Page 3)
on Sep 06, 2012

Good God, they got Geoffrey Fieger for their lawyer (anybody near metro-Detroit knows that name).  Nice knowing you, Brad and SD.  


Also, you need to give your people some raises.  

on Sep 06, 2012

[/quote]I think you need to either remove or redact that document.[/quote]

I'll see what I can do.  Unfortunately, that document is apparently just a component of the document dump they did which I have no control over.

on Sep 06, 2012

I think you need to either remove or redact that document.[/quote]

I'll see what I can do.  Unfortunately, that document is apparently just a component of the document dump they did which I have no control over.[/quote]. yea, I realized that when I looked at the source code. The comments on Kotaku are brutal, but that article is so biased, it's absolutely ludacris. The internet has given us the freedom to make fools of ourselves on the world stage.

on Sep 06, 2012

Real Life [tm] and adminning got in the way so I haven't read the article yet.....

Am looking forward to it  this evening...

on Sep 06, 2012


then I think people should make a best case effort to upset that individual.

I don't think that's really what you meant to say, might want to fix that given today's world.

Ya if we keep trying to not offend anyone we're going to turn into nothingness.

'Doh. Fixed.

on Sep 06, 2012

The general public is very ignorant, they don't understand how things work.


Reading over the comments on QT3 and Kotaku, lots of people don't understand that while your behavior might upset them, that doesn't make it illegal. Seeing the Samsung vs Apple trial results, not even the Jury understood what was going on.


I personally find it funny that she is going to all of this trouble over $25,000 if I read that number correctly. I suppose there might be room for additional damages but all this trouble for such a small bit of money, maybe she wanted to make a down payment on a new house or something? 


p.s. If you hire me Brad you can make fun of me all day, I would love to join your team : D 

on Sep 06, 2012

The world is full of frivolous lawsuits.  There's always several going on (usually IP). 

It's been my experience that most lawsuits, at personal injury related cases, are pretty frivolous. They make the case that it's cheaper to settle than to fight them out (and they are).  But giving in just perpetuates it.

And while I certainly don't enjoy getting pooped on by people on the Internet, it doesn't really matter.  It just makes me less inclined to visit other forums in the future and be more skeptical about what I read in the media.

on Sep 06, 2012

Wow. Read through them. 

A) I'd work for you.

B ) I hope to god that this all comes to light AS IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED. The spin that video game media is giving it is already so far off base. 

on Sep 06, 2012

Bravo for fighting it out. If nobody settled these cases then people would stop initiating them.


Also, its sad that I saw a few people complaining about how Elemental was a bad game with no mentions that I saw about how FE is coming out soon for free to all those people and is a much better game. Theres always an opportunity in these situations to boost brand awareness... lol. I bet kotaku is making alot of money of publishing this article... no reason why you can't benefit as well. 

on Sep 06, 2012

This is the pitfall of allowing a workplace to incorporate a community. If someone leaves on poor terms, they can sue you. I am really glad our broken court system doesn't allow people I left on bad terms to sue me. Also glad that every troll and hater on the internet has no idea who I am. Try not to let the bad humans get you down Frogboy. There are alot of good human beings out there to make up for the bad ones. Maybe if we could get trolls to even things out with a carbon footprint deal?


"I do troll Brad every chance I get, but I offset my troll footprint by being kind to Windows 8 users." -Lolitroll528

on Sep 06, 2012

Bravo for fighting it out. If nobody settled these cases then people would stop initiating them.
                                                                                  o  o  o

^  Agreed.  ^   Frivolous lawsuits, and the slimey members of the legal profession who live on them, are one of the greatest curses of the USA, in this century.  So much effort ... invested in evil ... 

In any event, Frogboy, I believe that you are doing the right thing, fighting this frivolous lawsuit; which would otherwise be nothing more than "legal" extortion, abetted by (shameful) legal professionals ...

In her career, my wife once had to work for years, to get an employee fired, who was not only grossly incompetent, but also a nasty piece of work, as an individual.  The case really should have been open and shut; but went on far too long.  My wife (and justice) did eventually win, but it was an unpleasant, and time-consuming, process.  Here's hoping that you will soon see your "light at the end of tunnel" ... Hang in there!         

on Sep 07, 2012

Well, having read the linked documents, it seems to me that Stardock is a den of iniquity and it's a wonder any work gets done at all.

I am particularly appalled that work colleagues have the audacity to joke with each other on company time.  We the customers end up paying for that.  Lower productivity = higher prices... not to mention inferior products because the attention to detail is in the lollygagging around and the staff's sexual acrobatics.  There's a time and place for making love, and that's in the privacy of one's own home, not behind the filing cabinet at work or on the table in the staff tea room.

Moreover, I am distressed that a company I have dealt with for several years and though highly of has morals lower than a guttersnipe and uses profanities as well as sexual innuendos in mixed company.  I mean, fuck me, what sort of example does the use of profanity set for the young and up-coming, yet still impressionable executive?  Nope, it's just not right, fuckin' corrupting people like that, then expecting hem to be well behaved AND productive.  It's wrong, I tell ya, wrong!

And what's this peeing in peoples cars?  Do you have any idea just how badly that'd smell after being out in the hot sun all day... and just how freaking long it'd take to get rid off?  No amount of car air fresheners is gonna help there, is it?  Nah, that's terrible!  Look, if you's really want to mess with somebody like that, don't pee, put a couple of day old fish in there instead.... or prawns, they'll do the trick as well.

Now in spite of all these depraved and wikkid things, I detect that company morale is quite high and that staff actually enjoy going to work.  Therefore, I recommend you change nothing, Brad, and keep on doing what you're doing.  Sadly, there aren't too many workplaces around like yours, happy and pleasant, so more power to you.... and I really hope you kick that sheila's [woman's] butt in court. 

Oh, and don't forget to recoup your costs of court from her, not to mention compensation for pain and suffering; loss of income; damage to reputation; sleepless nights and medication for head lice removal after touching her hair.  Lord knows, on a 100 grand a year, she can afford it.

on Sep 07, 2012

Occam's Razor is a tool that I wish people made better use of.

Why is our turn over rate almost non-existent? Why is morale so high? We have people of all races, colors, orientations here. We don't care.  What most of us have in common, however, is the expectation that while our rights as individuals will be respected, that no one person has the right to tell everyone else what is "appropriate" - even when they're not present.

Here's an example of the type of shennigans we have at the office:

Can I see how someone might find that offensive? Yes. I know for a fact that some YouTube viewers thought this was extremely unprofessional and inappropriate. But WE, those present, thought it was funny (funny enough to share it online).  If one of those people who was horrified by this video happened to work at Stardock, they'd have every right to ask that this sort of joke not happen in their presence.  They don't, however, have the right to say that the rest of us can't do this kind of thing.

on Sep 07, 2012
  1. Please never touch my hair or any of my body parts; not even jokingly.
  2. Please do not talk about my private life or about my boyfriend/future husband in any terms especially negative terms.
  3. Please be careful with your "jokes" which are at many times inappropriate, sexist, vulgar and very embarrassing not only to me, but everyone present.
  4. Please keep your negative personal opinions of others (including family members and/or coworkers) not present at the time of your comments, to yourself. I feel, at times, it puts me in a very uncomfortable position.

since you're a fan of occam's razor... is it more likely here that she's saying that she doesn't want #3 and #4 done TO HER... or AT ALL TIMES whether she is in the room or not, whether you are at work, in the company, at the grocery story, with your dog?

sure, her language leaves a lot to be desired... but people are usually pretty sloppy writers.  the second sentence of your first post contains omits a word that undermines the meaning... but in context to points 1 and 2, does it really sound like she's trying to tell you how to run your life?

so b.s. meter is ticking because you're setting up a straw man to knock down triumphantly.



"I don't recall item #1 but will certainly endeavor to be extra careful."

and yet, in the lawyer document you link to... you seem to recall the specifics of the incident in detail. so what happened ollie north?  this kind of convenient "i do not recall"s and selective memory doesn't help your case.

and again, since you're a fan of occam's razor:




Witness statements found in the response from Miseta's attorneys, however, contradict the claim. One employee specifically testified in her deposition that Miseta gave her a week's advance notice that she would be leaving Stardock, so that she "knew where [Miseta's] files were" and had access to relevant Google docs. Others had no recollection of Wardell or HR manager Angela Marshall (Wardell's sister-in-law) ever mentioning missing documents causing trouble with Elemental.

A former Stardock employee, speaking with Kotaku on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that a mere two weeks before launch, Elemental had many technical issues that had nothing to do with its marketing. The employee also added that at the time, nobody mentioned any materials having gone missing or any sabotage having taken place and showed Kotaku communications from Wardell that indicated satisfaction with how Miseta's staff replacement was taking over the review kit and review guide process.



doesn't seem as cut and dried as you seem to want to present it considering all points mentioned above... PLUS:

"Witness depositions included in the case documents refer to multiple comments from Wardell to female employees about their breast and bra sizes, and one incident where he asked Miseta to attend a media tour because "[her] nipples look better on TV." They also describe a time on a media tour when Wardell's visit to the hotel room Miseta and another female colleague were sharing made Miseta feel uncomfortable."

and FIFTH:

since you like using the morale and jolly disposition of your workers as testament to your innocence (testimonies given in anonymity notwithstanding), wouldn't the fact that the plaintiff is making over $100,000 now be testament to her reasonableness as an employee?

so if you want your day in court, you'll have it.  but you have to know that if you want to win the battle ahead of time, you might have to talk about those aspects of the case that paint the events in quite a different light than you present.


p.s. used to be a fan but if these charges have legs behind them, i've got a face palm with your name on it.

on Sep 07, 2012

also, question:


you wrote, "I am an inappropriate, sexist, vulgar, and embarrassing person and I'm not inclined to change my behavior."

at what point does that sentiment become a problem in your estimation?  so you're "sexist" and that's just how you roll.  what if you were "racist"?

at what point does "hey, that's just who i am, take it or get lost" not work in your view?