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Toxic Startup Cultures: Former Away Employees say they were Overworked

A bombshell investigation published in The Verge describes a problematic workplace culture at the trendy unicorn startup Away. The reporter Zoe Schiffer spoke with 14 former employees of the $1.4 billion luggage brand, who said they were criticized by executives on company-wide Slack channels and pressured to work around the clock.

Business Insider spoke with Erin Grau, Away’s vice president of people and culture, one week before the publication of The Verge article. Grau said Away leaders recognized the importance of taking care of their people, and that the company was developing human-resources practices that are unusually sophisticated for a relatively young startup.

A spokesperson for Away emailed Business Insider a statement from CEO Steph Korey (reproduced in full below), in which she apologized for the messages she sent employees requesting immediate answers to questions after 10 p.m. and calling one staff member “brain dead.” Korey said Away has been working to create a positive company culture.

The Verge’s portrayal of Away’s company culture suggests that working at a fast-growing startup may not always be as glamorous as it appears from the outside.

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