The company’s new CEO, Paula Schneider, recently responded to a series of mass emails sent to employees by an anonymous insider. The emails were critical of American Apparel’s new management and the hedge fund backing the company.
American Apparel may have fired its founder Dov Charney last year, but new management is learning that he’s far from gone.
A group of Charney supporters within the company, who operate behind the name and hashtag #TeamDov, have been rallying support for the founder and slamming American Apparel’s new executives and investors through a digital campaign that management is struggling to quell. One employee has been sending pro-Charney mass emails to American Apparel employees through a variety of anonymous addresses during the past two months, causing enough ruckus that CEO Paula Schneider was forced to address the messages in a staff-wide memo on Feb. 19, BuzzFeed News has learned.
“Over the last couple of months, we all have received â€˜blast’ emails from an anonymous outsider criticizing American Apparel, its management and its policies,” Schneider, who started as CEO last month, wrote in a message obtained by BuzzFeed News. “Some of the emails have even been designed to appear like they are being sent from inside the company. I have refrained from responding to these emails because I feel they do not deserve our collective attention.”
She continued: “That said, I cannot let today’s email — which stooped to personally attacking hard-working members of the American Apparel team — go without a response. As a company, we embrace free speech and social commentary by our employees. That is a valued part of our culture. But today’s email provides an opportunity for me to reach out to all of you. I encourage you not to be influenced by unfounded personal attacks or baseless threats about job security sent by outsiders who do not have the company’s best interests at heart.”
The specific email Schneider is referring to accused Standard General, the hedge fund with the most financial control of the company, of “draining” American Apparel and forcing cutbacks at the retailer. The email included a link to a New York Post story about a lawsuit against Standard General, in which unsecured creditors of RadioShack are accusing the hedge fund of timing its investment in RadioShack to maximize a payout from the company’s recent bankruptcy, raising concern that American Apparel could suffer the same fate. The email noted that Colleen Brown, American Apparel’s newly appointed chairperson, was brought on to the board last year by Standard General (though it incorrectly identified her as CFO) and that new General Counsel Chelsea Grayson was Brown’s pick.
“We need Standard General OUT,” the employee wrote in the Feb. 19 email. “We have a bunch of consultants draining our company sitting in a room all day making 6 figures a month. THAT IS NOT AMERICAN APPAREL.”
One of the anonymous emails described the campaign as being about more than just Charney, saying it is also a response to American Apparel “being taken over by corporate Wall Street guys who don’t care about the company or the brand or the image or its employees.”
The emails reflect concern among employees that as American Apparel tries to right itself under new management, it could lose sight of its core values that were championed by Charney. The founder was a vocal advocate for treating workers generously, paying a fair wage, and making high-quality items in America.
A source inside the company told BuzzFeed News that management has spoken of their commitment to the company’s principles, and says it will continue to focus on remaining sweatshop-free, paying fair wages, and manufacturing in the USA.
While Schneider wrote that the emails came from an outsider, BuzzFeed News confirmed they originated from a current employee, who requested anonymity citing fear of retribution. The employee said they have roughly 5,000 americanapparel.net addresses and sent the messages in batches of 500; multiple employees have told the anonymous emailer that the messages have been deleted from their inboxes as American Apparel’s management works to stem the tide.
A spokesperson for American Apparel declined to comment.
The pro-Charney insurgency shows how tightly a founder’s personality can become entwined with a company. Emails prior to the Feb. 19 message centered around gaining signatures and statements for the Team Dov website, which says it’s “a statement of support for Dov Charney and his business vision at American Apparel from workers and executives at all levels of the company and around the world.” Hundreds have since signed the petition.
Charney, who founded American Apparel in 1998, was served with a termination letter in June for a long list of reasons including breaching his fiduciary duty, violating company policy, sexual harassment, and misusing corporate assets.
Charney was working as a paid consultant for American Apparel during an internal investigation that began in July, but was fired in December; the #TeamDov website was born almost immediately after. In a statement on Dec. 22, his lawyers described the investigation as “a complete sham” and said the decision to terminate him was “completely groundless.”
Charney pledged 43% of his stake in the company to Standard General this summer in a deal that apparently soured. He told Bloomberg News in late December that the hedge fund conspired with a board member to oust him after agreeing to reinstate him.
He told the news outlet: “I gave them my entire life’s work and they agreed to put me back in, but instead they used this investigation to fire me. They betrayed me.” Charney has not commented on the current round of anonymous emails and the response by management.
Standard General, for its part, said last December it “supported the independent, third-party and very thorough investigation into the allegations against Mr. Charney, and respect the board of director’s decision to terminate him based on the results of that investigation.”
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Congrats Twitter, but for IPOs.
1. Box shares started trading today on the New York Stock Exchange, about ten months after the cloud storage and app company filed to go public. Shares rose 65% despite the company’s non-existent profitability thanks to high sales and marketing costs.
Box closed the day valued at $2.8 billion.
Online data storage provider Box Inc Co-Founder and CEO Aaron Levie © rings the opening bell to celebrate his company’s IPO at the New York Stock Exchange January 23, 2015.
3. But everyone was really happy about it! It’s 2015’s first big tech IPO. Also Box’s co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie, who is Silicon-Valley-famous for his twitter quips, (sometimes) big hair, and colorful sneakers.
Tomorrow’s Schedule: 7 AM: Wake up, drink lots of coffee8 AM: Do this and that10 AM: Work
Thanks to the amazing employees, customers, partners & investors who got us here! Now, I must take a nap.**Not a forward looking statement
8. Levie has spent a lot of time at the head of growing, but still private company (Box was founded in 2005), which has won him a lot of goodwill among investors and other tech executives who’ve gone through the process.
9. Like Drew Houston, the CEO of Dropbox, the other hot storage startup with that has “Box” in its name.
11. Or Y Combinator president Sam Altman
coming out of my twitter blackout for one tweet only to say CONGRATS @levie and @BoxHQ!
13. And HubSpot founder Dharmesh Shah
Congrats, @levie on the IPO. Hope you had a nice nap and got some rest. It’s all easy-going from here.
15. And the head of the biggest and most profitable software company of all time, Satya Nadella. (Funny enough, some think Box will get acquired or crushed by Microsoft.)
17. Speaking of Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise business, the head of if, Scott Guthrie, had an unflashy, utiltiarian congratulations.
19. Former Windows boss Steve Sinofsky spread the congratulations all around to the company’s investors.
Congratulations to @dfjjosh. Made the bet when @boxhq was just 3 people!
Best time for messaging? While on the NYSE floor and @SquawkAlley way to go @levie and team.
22. Venture capitalist and early Twitter investor Chris Sacca got in on the #congratstwitter action
24. Zendesk CEO Mikkel Svane, whose company was the hottest enterprise software IPO of last year, wondered what took so long.
@levie about effing time. But welcome to the club. And congrats on a fantastic opening!
26. Former Facebook executive and venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya
28. Anthony Noto has seen tech companies face the public market from every angle: he was Twitter’s lead banker during its IPO and now serves as its CFO (he also was going to work for the hedge fund that owns a big chunk of Box but joined Twitter instead).
Congrats to Aaron @levie and the $BOX team! Huge milestone to celebrate
30. .8% of all of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s tweets have been for congratulating Aaron Levie and Box.
Congratulations to @levie and the Box team on their IPO and for creating a great company!
32. Congrats Aaron, your Box stake is worth about $95 million! Now you have to explain this to investors every 90 days!
D'Onofrio as Kingpin for Netflix Daredevil makes me nerdsquee. Great casting.
— Brian Truitt (@briantruitt) June 10, 2014
Some great television series are being produced directly for online streaming services. Netflix has already had a lot of success with the Kevin Spacey political drama “House of Cards” and is working with Marvel Comics on a “Daredevil” series which is expected to be much better than the 2004 flop featuring Ben Affleck in the title role.
When it was announced that Ben Affleck would be the next Batman, we saw how critical comics fans can be about who gets cast for these roles. Fans got excited when they heard that Vincent D’Onofrio (“Law and Order”) has been cast as Wilson Fisk, the gargantuan organized crime boss known also known as The Kingpin.
Huge welcome to the amazing Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk! A spectacular addition to the Daredevil family! #daredevil
— Steven DeKnight (@stevendeknight) June 10, 2014
— Adam Roth (@arothwdwc) June 10, 2014
@ProgressCityUSA Looks like ppl are excited.
— Sk8ie (@Sk8ieSH) June 10, 2014
— Mark D Beazley (@MarkDBeazley) June 10, 2014
— Joe Dunn (@joedunn721) June 10, 2014
— Sk8ie (@Sk8ieSH) June 10, 2014
If you’re going to play a crime boss, might as well use a mugshot, right?
“Daredevil” is scheduled to drop in 2015.
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They are on the short list of finalists for the Mars One project.
1. In 2012, Mars One announced plans to colonize Mars. This mini-doc from The Guardian and Stateless Media takes a very personal look at three individuals willing to give up everything to explore life, and ultimately death, on Mars.
Over 200,000 people applied for a seat on the four-person spaceship set to travel to Mars in 2024. There are currently 660 finalists. The mission is a one-way trip, and those who are selected to go will never return to Earth. Meet three of the finalists hoping to make the historic journey, and hear their fascinating stories and very personal reasons for wanting to be a part of this epic adventure.
3. Ryan, a physics student from the UK
“I think the most important thing to do in life is to leave a legacy. A lot of people do that by, say, having a child or having a family. For me, this would be my legacy. To try and find if there’s life on Mars, to inspire a new generation, to lead to the beginnings of the first civilization on another planet. That is my legacy.”
4. Dina, an Iraqi-American computer science graduate
“If I ever made it to Mars, it’s gonna be the same experience as me coming to the United States. Going back is not an option, never. I don’t feel like I need a family to be able to survive and exist.”
5. Jeremias, a young doctor from Mozambique
“I think this world is not a good place to live anymore. We have so many disease, we have so many Army conflicts, we have natural disasters, we have inequities. We have so many problems that I believe it is not possible to solve. I would like to see a better world comparing to this one and I think a good way to solve those problems is to start from the beginning.”
6. And what about the loved ones that get left behind?
“One can think he’s committing suicide, but it’s not suicide. Quite the contrary, he goes there because it is God’s mission. It is humanity’s mission.”
7. Ryan’s grandfather:
“If it does come to that moment, then I will tell him how much I love him. I will certainly cuddle him, I will kiss him. Then I will tell him to enjoy his life and never, ever forget how much he’s loved.”
8. Some might call these volunteers noble, some might say they are crazy, but there is no denying the bravery it takes to step up for a mission into the unknown.
“If I die on Mars, that would be great.”
“If I die on Mars, that would be an accomplishment.”
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Keith Kizer says Overeem initially sped out of building when faced with random test. UFC tracked him down short time later.
— Mike Chiappetta MMA (@MikeChiappetta) April 24, 2012
Overeem admits he didn't ask any appropriate questions to Molina about substances he was taking. That should be the end of it, seriously,
— Jordan Breen (@jordanbreen) April 24, 2012
Overeem admits he has not filed any complaints against Molina and is unsure if he will file AGAINST THE DOCTOR THAT MADE HIM FAIL A TEST.
— John Morgan (@MMAjunkieJohn) April 24, 2012
When Alistair Overeem tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone earlier this month, fans of the UFC were absolutely shocked. Overeem not only lost his chance at the Heavyweight championship, he also lost a ton of fans and a ton of respect from fellow fighters.
Today we learned Overeem initially tried running away from the random drug test and he admits he didn’t know what Dr. Molina was putting in his body because he never cared to know.
If there's one thing to take from Overeem's NSAC hearing today, it's know what you are putting into your body. In other words, nothing new.
— Seth Falvo (@SethFalvo) April 24, 2012
Even IF Overeem was telling the truth about absolutely everything, it would still look shady. Should have used the Viagra defense.
— Craig (@TheGraic) April 24, 2012
This Overeem stuff is all bs. You are responsible for what goes in your body. You and you alone
— Kevin Iole (@KevinI) April 24, 2012
— Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunsonMMA) April 24, 2012
Two weeks ago, all Americans were praising our heroic first responders. Today, liberals are physically attacking them. #SeaMayDay
— jon gabriel (@exjon) May 2, 2013
— Tone Capone (@tonybalogna) May 2, 2013
Boston was an abberation. Seattle proves how lefties generally feel about first responders a.k.a. Pigs…
— Greg M (@Pqlyur1) May 2, 2013
Yes, the agitators and grievance-mongers of Occupy and Company are busy smashing windows, throwing rocks, damaging cars, and hurling epithets at the very first responders that the entire nation was hailing just a few short weeks ago.
Big thanks to Seattle police for using noise terrorism again our people today. I hope for screwdrivers thru every pigs eardrums.
— Echo Boomer (@genrefree) May 2, 2013
— Anon Receptionist(@TheLulzDeptxx) May 2, 2013
Damn I’m tryna be in Seattle. Sounds like pigs givin the homies a hard time
— Fibxnvcci(@Bryndynamite) May 2, 2013
— Right Now I/O Feed (@rightnowio_feed) May 2, 2013
I hope all those in Seattle protesting are safe and unharmed. @seattlepd, you’re a bunch of pigs who need a taste of their own medicine.
— kat (@blushkat) May 2, 2013
— Me (@Seattleperp) May 2, 2013
— Anon Receptionist(@TheLulzDeptxx) May 2, 2013
Oh, no. We haven’t forgotten.
This is the price of indulging leftist brats. Looks like Seattle has learned nothing.
Some kid keeps shouting ”Fuck the police” on the news behind the reporter in Seattle.#whylol
— Jalie Robertson (@jalieboo14) May 2, 2013
Fuck the police! Stay strong Seattle #MayDay
— J. (Anonymous) T. (@Boricua_Torres) May 2, 2013