The marketing boss who got shredded online for posting a selfie of himself crying on LinkedIn after laying off employees is doubling down on the widely mocked move.
Braden Wallake, the CEO of Columbus, Ohio-based marketing services firm HyperSocial, claimed his emotional post has resonated with other business leaders, even as countless LinkedIn users accuse him of being out of touch and attempting to portray himself as the victim of the cuts .
“The reason [I haven’t deleted it] is because I am getting countless messages from other business owners saying, ‘love this, been there, worst feeling, right there with you,’” Wallake told PR Week. “There is a lot of good that has come from this post, but I am trying not to sit there reading the negative [comments].”
Wallake sparked vitriol among LinkedIn users for his original blubbering LinkedIn post, which he described as “the most vulnerable thing I’ll ever share.” He wrote that he was forced to cut the employees due to his own poor business decision.
“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,” Wallake wrote alongside the picture of tears streaming down his face.
“So, I just want people to see, that not every CEO out there is cold-hearted and doesn’t care when he/she has to lay people off,” he added.
The original LinkedIn post has garnered more than 35,000 reactions, nearly 7,500 comments and nearly 700 shares since it first went online earlier this week.
Wallake later apologized for how his post was perceived – though he told PR Week that he isn’t sorry about the message itself.
“Hey everyone, yes, I am the crying CEO. No, my intention was not to make it about me or victimize myself. I am sorry it came across that way,” he said. “It was not my place to out the employees’ names publicly.”
Wallake said he laid off two employees at HyperSocial, which still has 15 workers left. He also defended his own actions at the company, noting that he did not take a salary for the first 18 months of its existence and now receives a paycheck of $250 per week.
“People have no idea what has actually gone on, what actions we have taken, what conversations we have had with these employees,” Wallake told the outlet.
Wallake’s post sparked a trend on LinkedIn where users shared photos of themselves crying and sharing bad news.
One user named Drew M. posted his own crying selfie while expressing regret for “Taco Tuesday,” saying it was “a bad choice.”
David Rolls, a London-based podcaster, mocked Wallake’s post by sharing his own exaggerated, babyish crying selfie – joking that he had to commandeer his employee’s team’s sales commission to pay for an all-inclusive trip to Thailand.
“I’ve never been to Thailand, and really want to go, so what was I to do?” Rolls wrote. “Go somewhere cheaper? A 4-star resort? Of course not.”