When your coworker fires up PowerPoint in a meeting, you might be tempted to tune out. I don’t blame you. These presentations can be dry, dense and never-ending. But if you ever have the chance to take in a slide deck put together by outside, activist investors, sit up and pay attention: There’s a chance you’ll see your employer methodically and thoroughly roasted.
Becca Platsky, co-founder and COO of the time-management startup Nitetoast, also maintains a popular “work humor” TikTok account and has collected some of the greatest hits in this genre. Her archive actually began with a clip revisiting the proposal for Fyre Festival, a failed luxury music event that stranded rich influencers on an inhospitable island and landed its organizer in prison for fraud. The outlandish promises of the pitch are, of course, even funnier in light of the disaster that followed. Then Platsky looked at the infamous 29-page document of 2018 that supposedly proved musicians Lorde and Jack Antonoff were dating, complete with an “Executive Summary,” tweet analysis, conspiracy maps and close reads of Lorde’s lyrics. Next, she pulled up a 1996 series of slides with the brand insignia of Boston Consulting Group, evidently a parody of corporate style in which the author takes stock of his current relationship.
All good stuff. But things took a turn for the serious when Platsky began to share the savage presentations from investors dissatisfied with the performance and management of the company they’d bought into. There was, for example, the takedown of Peloton co-founder and CEO John Foley published by Blackwells Capital right before he resigned from executive leadership earlier this year. Among brutal data points on stock price fluctuation and shareholder returns were slides in which Foley’s own statements were used to paint him as a clueless twit.
Indeed, being an overpaid, irresponsible and out-of-touch suit at the top of the ladder seems to guarantee that a hedge fund will come along one day to reveal that the emperor has no clothes. Platsky featured similar decks blasting Sumner Redstone (the late former chairman of Viacom), Marissa Mayer (formerly CEO of Yahoo!) and the C-suite at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Lower-level hires may be powerless to call out the incompetence and laziness of their bosses, but when it starts affecting the stakeholders’ bottom line? That’s when the nasty graphs come out.
Arguably the masterpiece of the form, however, is a 2014 evisceration of the dining chain Olive Garden by Starboard Value, who argued that owner Darden Restaurants had alienated customers with everything from a stupid logo redesign to unhealthy, unappealing new dishes and even a lack of breadstick protocol training for servers. The authors truly held nothing back, going so far as to note that the fried lasagna bites on the current menu were “barely edible.”
Wonderful, powerful and true. I suppose that despite capitalism’s manifold ills, it’s a slight relief to see that if a business consistently sucks ass for long enough, their fat cat managerial class does get nailed to the wall by assholes richer than them. Imagine: People had to photograph and attempt to eat garbage dinners at Olive Garden as an assignment for their job. The free market produces some mighty strong haterade. My own career may be on the modest side, but at least I’m not getting dragged to hell in a PowerPoint. Now if I can just avoid any promotions…