Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


For the purposes of this article, I'd like you to be Judge Judy.

I'll present a few facts. You, though, must offer a verdict.

This isn't so easy, you see. It involves a Millennial. An unhappy Millennial. There are, therefore, many nuances to which one has to be sensitive.

Talia Jane, 25 years old, worked in customer service for Yelp's Eat24 delivery service. Then she didn't.

What happened in between? Well, she complained to Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman about her salary.

You might imagine that people complain about their salaries quite a bit. I'd suggest that fewer decide to address their complaints in a long post on Medium.

This was Talia Jane's chosen option.

In a passionate -- and, some might believe, passionately misguided -- post, she explained that she lived in San Francisco, earned a pittance at Yelp and couldn't even afford to turn on the heater in her apartment.

She said she earned a net biweekly sum of $733.24. Eighty percent of it went to rent.

San Francisco rents are silly. They reflect a certain affluence that tech has wrought. However, one way that tech has wrought this affluence is by not paying very much to those at the bottom of its allegedly democratic pyramid.

Talia Jane didn't spare Stoppelman details of her pain.

She wrote: "So here I am, 25 years old, balancing all sorts of debt and trying to pave a life for myself that doesn't involve crying in the bathtub every week. Every single one of my coworkers is struggling. They're taking side jobs, they're living at home. One of them started a GoFundMe because she couldn't pay her rent."

Oh, goodness. A GoFundMe. Just like the woman who spent a lot of money on Powerball tickets and didn't win.

You might find Jane's missive to her CEO a touch long. You might find it very slightly self-involved.

She talked about her dreams, her college life, and the alleged fact that a CVS employee gave her $6 so that she could afford to get to work.

These sentences might not have endeared her to Stoppelman: "Speaking of that whole training thing, do you know what the average retention rate of your lowest employees (like myself) are? Because I haven't been here very long, but it seems like every week the faces change. Do you think it's because the pay your company offers is designed to attract young people with no responsibilities, sort of like the CIA?"

I feel some of you might be staring at the word "responsibilities" and thinking: "Was it responsible to write this screed?"

I will stay perched on this fine white wicker fence while you ponder this thought from Talia Jane: "Look, I'll make you a deal. You don't have to pay my phone bill. I'll just disconnect my phone. And I'll disconnect my home internet, too, even though it's the only way I can do work for my freelance gig that I haven't been able to do since I moved here because I'm constantly too stressed to focus on anything but going to sleep as soon as I'm not at work."

Some of you will feel her pain. I sense, indeed, that this one might be too close to call.

Are you swayed by Talia Jane's suffering? Are you moved that her plight is so severe that she included, at the end of her Medium post, an appeal for money -- adorned helpfully with her PayPal, Venmo, and SquareCash details?

Or are you not in the least bit surprised that a few hours after she penned her opus, Yelp fired her?

No, no, it was nothing to do with her Medium post to the Yelp CEO. Well, at least that's what the Yelp CEO said.

"I've not been personally involved in Talia being let go and it was not because she posted a Medium letter directed at me,"  Stoppelman said in a tweet.

He must have been involved enough to know why she was (allegedly) fired, you might be thinking. You might, in fact, be even more skeptical than that.

Stoppelman, though, insisted that the reality was that living in the Bay Area was frightfully expensive, so Yelp was going to expand in Arizona instead.

"Two sides to every HR story so Twitter army please put down the pitchforks," he added.

Judges, it's over to you.

Whom do you sympathize with? Are you on the side of Talia Jane, who just couldn't take it anymore, so she publicly excoriated her CEO for not paying her a (in her eyes) living wage?

Or might you side with those who think this is yet another example of a whining Millennial who has no grasp of the real world, of struggle, of pain, of fight and of perspective?

I await your contribution.

My Venmo details are ... no, wait. Just kidding.