Andy “Reginald” Dinh, CEO of the massive esports organization Team SoloMid (TSM) and Blitz, is accused of highly abrasive behavior towards staff while also misclassifying employees as contractors.
A report by Washington Post spoke with over a dozen current and former employees regarding an alleged “culture of fear” at TSM and Blitz. Many of whom did so under anonymity, fearing retaliation by Dinh, especially after employees found out that the head of HR was fired during an inexplicable all-hands meeting.
“That was when [Andy] told the whole company that the HR person was let go because he asked a question that Andy didn’t like,” a former TSM employee said. “I think he kind of realized how ridiculous it sounded, so he followed up by saying, ‘Well, he asked two questions that [I] didn’t like.’ No one wants to ask any questions after that.”
NEW: Over a dozen workers at TSM and Blitz told The Post about the “culture of fear” fostered by Andy Dinh, and a resulting exodus of talent.
Some workers may have also been misclassified as contractors, not employees, based on interviews and docs we got.https://t.co/LOHFrBRDQk
— ℳikhail Klimentov (@LeaderGrev) May 4, 2022
Not long after The Washington Post’s report went live, Dinh commented on Redditaddressing why the head of HR was terminated.
“Previous to letting go of our head of HR, I met with this person once for an interview. I was also not his direct manager of him, ”Dinh said. “The first work interaction was that this person emailed our executive team to ask for recommendations on hiring for a competing organization. Generally the first task that you do is to put together at 30,60,90. I told [this] person that it was not [a] good use of time and that they should focus on building trust within the organization.”
The former HR head allegedly disagreed and was let go for not prioritizing other tasks. Dinh claims that he’ll do an ask-me-anything after an internal investigation is complete.
Everyone working at TSM and Blitz, including athletes, programming, and sales, was potentially susceptible to alleged outbursts from Dinh. Former Blitz program manager Anthony Barnes claims the mistreatment made day-to-day operations difficult.
“Nobody wanted to be in a one-on-one meeting with Andy because you had no witnesses,” Barnes said. “I mean that literally. Who knew if Andy was going to scream or yell at you, degrade you, be friendly, or just be confused or inquisitive? You weren’t sure what Andy you were going to get. But the more people on the call, the more likely Andy wasn’t going to be a complete volcano.”
Sometimes employees would be publicly mocked for results that the CEO deemed inadequate. This public shaming could come at any time, too. According to Barnes, there was an instance where Dinh inexplicably joined a Blitz design call on his phone while hiking to a ski lodge. As the meeting went on, Dinh grew increasingly upset and began calling the work worthless or a waste of time.
“He took the call where we’re screen sharing detailed design information and mock-ups on his phone,” Barnes said. “By that medium, that’s going to be inherently challenging. I wouldn’t make that decision. Or I would be cognizant that that would impair my ability to make decisions and evaluations. Andy didn’t seem to do either or value doing so.”
The Washington Post’s report also states that multiple workers at the Los Angeles-based TSM and Blitz believe they were misclassified as contractors instead of employees and thus were not eligible for certain benefits.
“We won’t be commenting on confidential personnel issues, especially complaints made by anonymous individuals who feel they were misclassified in their employment status,” TSM and Blitz spokesperson Gillian Sheldon told Washington Post.
In January, League of Legends developer Riot Games told wired it was investigating Dinh for allegedly bullying and verbally abusing Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, a former TSM athlete. During a live stream, Peng described Dinh as a “bully who gets away with being a bad person because he’s powerful.”
TSM and Bliz shared a statement with Washington Post regarding the situation with Peng.
“As we stated publicly late last year, upon learning of allegations against Mr. Dinh, TSM immediately hired an independent investigator to begin a thorough internal investigation,” the statement reads. “Andy recused himself from any oversight of the scope, nature and conclusions of the investigation. Those results are pending. Until finalized, we can’t comment on specifics.”
There are many moving aspects to this story, and it’s unlikely that a resolution is coming anytime soon.
Written by Kyle Campbell on behalf of GLHF.