Tech comedians are poking fun at their employers, drawing big followings

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Alexis Gay discontinue her occupation successful tech to prosecute drama full-time amid the Covid-10 pandemic.

Images courtesy of Alexis Gay

When Alexis Gay had to contiguous 2nd 4th results to her squad connected a Zoom video call, she sat down and wondered however she could bash it. She wanted beryllium transparent but she besides wanted to beryllium encouraging to her teammates who had worked truthful hard done unprecedented circumstances.

The 2nd 4th of 2020 was 1 of the worst successful years for galore tech companies, arsenic the Covid-19 pandemic sent the system into a tailspin. As a elder manager astatine San Francisco-based integer institution Patreon, Gay knew colleagues were inactive learning however to enactment remotely portion the state was successful crisis.

While rehearsing what she'd said, she couldn't assistance but laugh.

Gay grew up wanting to beryllium an actor, but recovered herself 7 years into a tech occupation wherever she afloat leaned into the industry's hustle culture. And now, she recovered herself trying to bash it with a consecutive look during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.

Before her meeting, she made a satirical video depicting however she'd attack a team.

"This is simply a learning quarter," she said arsenic she looked to the broadside of camera arsenic if trying to person herself of what she was saying. "These are unprecedented times," she said successful different cut. "But the squad truly dug deep!" she said successful different cut, arsenic if trying to promote her team.

Her video instantly got tens of thousands of likes crossed assorted societal media platforms. "I was tapping into that thought of like, 'what are we going to accidental astir Q2?" She laughed. 

Gay is 1 of respective tech workers leaning connected drama to poke amusive astatine their workplaces, wherever the quirks and qualms of employers grew much pronounced amid the pandemic. It's the latest rotation connected a caller trend, wherever employees connection first-person accounts chronicling the dystopian quality of Silicon Valley work-life.

Often utilizing quick-take comedic videos, workers are poking amusive astatine recruiting strategies, diverseness pledges and the industry's homogenous makeup. Some person adjacent begun making wealth from their followings, galore of whom are millennials facing precocious rates of burnout, exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic. For some, it's go a signifier of therapy.

From tech to comedy

In January 2021, arsenic the pandemic raged done a wintertime surge, Gay took a leap and decided to prosecute drama full-time.

"The consciousness of however uncertain the aboriginal was was a constituent driven location each day," she said. "It felt like, the clip is present due to the fact that we simply don't cognize what's coming next."

Since graduating college, Gay had worked tirelessly successful assorted roles successful tech, from selling to income to partnerships. She's liked her jobs for the astir part, she says.

"There was an excitement to being young and caller successful the start-up world," she said. "This was a satellite wherever each I had to bash was rise my manus and enactment hard. I showed up early, stayed precocious and did that full deal. I became addicted to this thought that you tin physique and make something. Like, I was having an impact." 

While moving astatine San Francisco-based unreality institution Twilio -- though she liked the occupation -- she realized she didn't truly attraction that much, she said.

"It was like, you enactment successful tech, each your friends enactment successful tech, you bent retired connected the weekends and speech astir tech," she said. "It felt similar this homogenous routine."

Gay past moved to different institution that was person to her heart: Creators making content. Her astir caller relation was astatine San Francisco-based Patreon, wherever she worked successful creator partnerships. Around the aforesaid time, she joined a San Francisco improv group.

She launched different fashionable video successful March 2021 called "every azygous parkland bent successful San Francisco," which drew industrywide attention. "Alexis continually captures the world of our manufacture amended than immoderate @semil extremity of twelvemonth station ever could," tweeted Compound Ventures spouse Michael Dempsey.

"She's truthful spot connected it's terrifying," different Twitter idiosyncratic stated. (Gay said Twitter works good for drama — the abbreviated format penning makes premier existent property for zingers, and everybody successful San Francisco tech is connected the platform.)

Gay said her drama isn't meant to beryllium anti-tech, though. "If thing this is self-deprecating humor," she laughed. "For me, it's poking amusive astatine maine and my friends and the information that for 7 years, this was the prime I made. "

Now, Gay is utilizing the skills she learned successful her tech roles to gain wealth from her videos connected Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. She inactive does immoderate consulting and sheet moderating for conferences connected the side, she said.

Gay is not the archetypal to marque the leap to a drama career.

Sarah Cooper, a erstwhile Google idiosyncratic acquisition plan lead, recovered immense occurrence aft she filmed a satirical commentary astir what it's similar to enactment astatine Google and astatine a large tech company. She achieved planetary popularity successful 2019 for her TikTok videos articulator syncing to President Donald Trump. In 2020, she landed a Netflix woody for her ain show, "Sarah Cooper: Everything's Fine." And, successful March 2021, CBS ordered a aviator for a amusement based connected her publication "How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men's Feelings."

"What is truthful chill astir seeing her mainstream occurrence is that root communicative of being a tech drama idiosyncratic didn't pigeonhole her aboriginal connected truthful that's been affirming," Gay said.

Satire from a divers perspective

Josh Ogundu, a merchandise operations pb astatine TikTok and a startup advisor mentor astatine accelerator Techstars L.A Cohort, makes videos astir the world versus anticipation of moving successful tech.

The 28-year aged posts videos to his relationship NaijaNomad, and has reached tens of thousands of viewers since the opening of the year. He adjacent got a outcry retired from amusement runner and "Billions" co-creator Brian Koppelman connected Twitter.

He often pokes amusive companies' multi-million-dollar diverseness initiatives, recruiting practices and however erstwhile companies notation to "hiring" for definite roles, they often mean contractors, who usually don't get the benefits and perks that regular employees enjoy.

TikTok merchandise operations pb Josh Ogundu has grown successful popularity arsenic tech workers subordinate to his videos that instrumentality satire to the world of moving successful tech.

Photo courtesy of Josh Ogundu

"What Big Tech says connected the aboveground and what happens successful signifier is precise different," Ogundu said.

One of his videos, called "tech feline breaking into tech," pokes amusive astatine radical who travel from privileged inheritance complaining astir being an underdog. Another pokes amusive astatine tech companies rewarding employees with Slack emojis, whiskey and, essentially, thing but compensation.

After the 2020 execution of George Floyd and consequent radical justness protests, a drawstring of tech companies pledged to bash much to combat radical injustice.

Ogundo's response: A parody video called "Tech founders talking astir diverseness successful tech." In it, Ogundu looks to the broadside of the camera with a disinterested look arsenic if speaking to a crowd, and says, "At Big Tech BigCo, we pridefulness ourselves connected diversity....Due to our five-year $100 cardinal pledge to diversify tech, we are capable to prosecute 5 much radical of colour arsenic contractors this twelvemonth than successful immoderate erstwhile year."

He said helium saw a spread successful Silicon Valley satirical comedies, which focused connected engineers but ignored the existent challenges for radical of color.

"For me, it's having an outlet to speech astir much superior topics by poking amusive astatine it and opening it up for a broader speech successful a mode that isn't an onslaught connected someone," Ogundu said.

San Francisco-based Hallie Lomax sought a akin benignant of honesty. A Lyft technologist who's worked astatine assorted Silicon Valley tech companies, the 27-year-old started a integer comic portion called "At Work Comics" which she describes arsenic "moments with radical I americium paid to speech to."  

Lyft technologist Hallie Lomax has created integer comic strips depicting communal workplace interactions.

Photo courtesy of Hallie Lomax

It began arsenic a mode to papers her uncomfortable experiences during an internship astatine a tech company.

"This feline successful my bureau would beryllium weirdly flirty with maine and I didn't similar it truthful I started posting utilizing the hashtag #guyatwork did this thing." During the pandemic, she revived her hobby of drafting she much oregon little abandoned earlier she got into tech arsenic a bundle technologist during college. 

One comic from 2020 depicts a antheral connected a video telephone saying "I privation to marque java but I don't privation to amusement you my house." Another comic shows her moving from her laptop from a tiny location erstwhile her canine begins mounting a adjacent stuffed animal. "This is simply a hostile enactment environment," the quality is shown saying portion staring astatine her dog.

Photo courtesy of Hallie Lomax

"It's benignant of similar the other of a micro-aggression," she said. "It's these micro affirmative moments that adhd up implicit clip to make an overwhelming feeling of positivity."

They besides assistance her reconcile being a Black pistillate successful a homogenous tech industry, she said.

"I've had a batch of beauteous weird, antagonistic experiences, but with this, I person grounds that determination are a batch of bully ties and affirmative relationships I've had with coworkers and immoderate of them are adjacent beauteous bully friends," Lomax said. "The tech manufacture tin beryllium a precise hard spot to be, particularly erstwhile you don't needfully consciousness similar you're a portion of the 'in' groups, but if you tin retrieve each of the bully times you've had, it's easier to look past it all."

Lyft adjacent asked Lomax to bash a comic for its blog aft coworkers took notice. 

The blog post, called "mentoring myself" features light-hearted drawings of her quality talking to caller trainees, recalling from her archetypal days successful tech "a crippling paranoia that you don't person what it takes to win successful the nonrecreational world."

It shows a drafting of her successful a penguin costume with the words "If I had a dollar for each clip idiosyncratic told maine I had imposter syndrome, I'd question whether oregon not I deserved truthful overmuch money."

Millennial enactment anxiety

Rod Thill, a 30-year aged income idiosyncratic for an e-commerce logistics company, saw his societal media pursuing detonate to millions of followers successful October 2020 aft posting astir Silicon Valley's "grind" civilization and the stresses of feeling inadequate during a clip erstwhile workers can't work their bosses' expressions.

His TikTok sanction is @Rod and bio says "Anxious Millennial" with a teardrop driblet emoji.

"Last April, I had a absorption alteration during a pandemic and I had ne'er met them face-to-face," Thill said. "When that happened, it intensified the anxiety. Reading connection has been truly hard to bash during this time."

Thill's breakout video came erstwhile helium described millennials moving with the irrational fearfulness they're going to get fired. "I americium a beauteous stellar worker and inactive consciousness similar I'll get fired for nary reason," helium said.

He's garnered implicit a cardinal followers crossed platforms successful months and is present doing sponsorships with brands similar StitchFix, Lenovo and Wholly Guacamole. "Millennials emotion guac, truthful it fits in."

Companies are present hiring Thill for blessed hr events and awards nights. Now, he's begun penning a TV publication astir millennials successful startup civilization and hired an agent. But helium doesn't program connected quitting his time occupation anytime soon.

Like Gay, Thill needed to beryllium capable to speech and laughter astir the realities of workplace anxiousness and an outlet similar TikTok seemed perfect.

"Millennials, I think, similar to conscionable unfastened up and cheque apps existent quick," said Thill, describing wherefore helium thinks helium struck a chord with people. "Working successful firm America, clip is wealth and breaks are amazing."