Linus VS Steve: uncomfortable…


On several occasions, we’ve been critical of certain influencers, their “sticky” relationship with certain brands and their relative objectivity. Linus Tech Tips is a reference in the world of PC hardware, and not just in North America. Seeing him and his company at the heart of a storm over the same subjects is bound to upset some people. So, of course, all kinds of analyses, from the most profound to the most superficial, are already circulating on the net. Knowing both protagonists particularly well, we’re going to give you our point of view. Linus vs. Steve is obviously a controversial issue, but here, as usual, we’d like to make it clear that this is our view of things. We’re giving it to you not to fuel discussions but, once again, because we’ve known the protagonists in question for many years. And it goes without saying that saying you know these people means a lot more than just subscribing to their YouTube channels… (In this day and age, we need to be precise).

Linus Media Group: a true success story.

First and foremost, Linus has unquestionably created an empire. His simple youtube channel took advantage of the golden age of video on the internet, and the man was able to structure it all into a company that today employs almost 100 people…Unthinkable for us French. Linus’ rigor and passion are truly indisputable, but making videos out of passion and managing a company are two totally different “sports”.

For months now, internal transformations have been underway in an attempt to control the company’s growth and preserve the original creative flame. However, LMG’s core business is producing content (even if the company is trying to diversify). As such, the sheer volume of videos and the like requires impeccable discipline and organization to maintain a level of rigor. In recent times, this has not always been the case, and Linus’s numerous communications prior to the incident demonstrate that he was aware that his model was on the brink and clearly in a precarious equilibrium. The most telling manifestation of this was the arrival of Terren Tong as CEO to replace Linus and breathe new life into the creative side of the business.

But then the situation got out of hand. Recently, accusations of theft, ethical breaches and, more recently, allegations of sexual harassment have come to light, casting a shadow over the fun and friendly image many people have of the “team”. Some time ago, during a visit to the studios (broadcast on youtube by another media outlet), the person in charge of test protocols at LTT indicated that they had a more precise and efficient methodology, implying (very heavily) that this was not the case with competitors (see video below).

Was this the spark that set things in motion? A few days later, Gamers Nexus also published a video pointing out factual errors in tests and analyses, while evoking ethical problems and troubled relations with (brand) money.

Steve Burke, the (not really) white knight.

Linus vs Steve
Linus vs Steve: the story isn’t so simple…

The words chosen by Steve Burke of Gamers Nexus are not insignificant… And the character is too intelligent to have used them without having weighed their impact. He claims to have witnessed “an alarming number of conflicts on the part of Linus Tech Tips regarding their relationships with companies, their money flow and the potential bias resulting from these things” . A perfect recipe for discrediting someone in the hardware world, and incidentally a competitor. The company had already been weakened by a former employee’s claims that she had evolved in a toxic work environment and had been subjected to sexual harassment. These were obviously serious accusations, but we still don’t know what the real story was.

In all cases, we wanted to remain factual and bring you our perspective, which is necessarily different given the connections we have. The errors in the videos and the unfortunate words spoken are indisputable elements. As for the allegations made by a former employee, we must remain cautious, but this kind of subject, when unleashed on social networks, is particularly flammable. In short, Linus Media Group is on the ropes. But does this make Gamer Nexus the white knight it’s been trying to camp out for some time, and not just with Linus?

We don’t think so. Simply because we think there’s more to the story than that. We’re also very uncomfortable with public accusers and those who claim to hold the truth. In the past, we have had very different results from those obtained by GN in certain tests… And we quickly understood that discussion was not possible and that it amounted to a kind of blasphemy.

There are no white knights, only dollars.

Linus’ success is the cause of much jealousy, and even more so at a time when hardware marketing budgets are tending to tighten (and therefore to concentrate on the biggest players). LMG charges close to €100K (100,000) for a sponsored video dedicated to a brand/product, and the company is inundated with requests. A few months ago, the company was valued at $100 million, and is clearly in the midst of a growth crisis. This doesn’t excuse mistakes, bluster and other slip-ups , but when you accuse a competitor of conflicts of interest, you’d better make sure you’re 100% blameless. And if we apply his logic to GN, Steve should denounce his own structure

As you can see, behind all the noise, there are other issues at stake, with a real business and a lot of money at stake. So it’s important to bear in mind a fundamental notion for both LMG and GN: these guys aren’t doing youtube to occupy their weekends, they’re working for money. And when the numbers go up, anything goes.