Valve hardware developer Jeri Ellsworth fired

Popular engineer says it's "time for new exciting projects" as she departs from Half-Life creator Valve.

Jeri Ellsworth, a notable hardware developer on Valve's R&D team who, among other things, was prototyping controllers for the oft-rumoured Steam Box, posted on Twitter yesterday to say she had been fired.

"Yup. Got fired today. Time for new exciting projects," said Ellsworth.

Valve's forays into developing hardware, to tie in to its ever-unfolding Big Picture and on-the-TV experiments, have included toying with biometric sensors. Ellsworth is a notable engineer with a popular YouTube channel.

Valve's nonstandard approach to running its business has intrigued many. "It requires a commitment to hiring in a way that's very different from the way most companies hire," said its famous New Employees Handbook, which found its way online last year.

Speaking earlier in January at the University of Texas, Valve founder Gabe Newell discussed the company's "sink or swim" culture and said it needed to be "aggressive" about firing people.

"You have to be really aggressive about firing people," Newell said. "We haven't done a really good job with interns or new hires, it's kind of a sink or swim thing. People have to take it seriously, right? It's an engineering problem in the sense of you have to make decisions, you have to measure outcomes, you have to make changes as a result of it. I would have trouble working any other way now, and I think most of the people at Valve would have trouble."

"There's something we, somewhat unkindly, call the beaten wife syndrome, where people come in from other industries and really struggle. the worst are people from the feature film industry where people are taught that anytime they show initiative somebody's going to leap out and smite them for doing that. It usually takes about six to nine months for people to internalise the working model of the company."

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martingaston

Martin Gaston

Hi! I'm Martin, for some reason or another I have managed to convince the people who run GameSpot that I am actually wor
177 comments
ytte53w43gf43
ytte53w43gf43

"beaten wife" really?   You can't find a better analogy than to use someone who was abused in every aspect of her life.  

mtouchprod
mtouchprod

Why do all of their "around the web" articles just lead to gamespot articles?

punisher1
punisher1

Basically if you don't produce what we want in the time frame we give. We will fire you and put somebody else in your spot. I bet many people don't bother working for them. Who would want to go into that environment.

Ruppe21
Ruppe21

@punisher1


So just like any other job then.

And we all have to go into these environments sadly.

crazynotstupid
crazynotstupid

@punisher1 A lot of people actually. These kind of organizations are usually very high paying. There's also the challenge of surviving in a high pressure environment like that that many find appealing. Make no mistake there are lots of organizations like that. Valve is just coming out and admitting it. Others don't do it because they are afraid of bad press.

pirate_or_ninja
pirate_or_ninja

@punisher1 oh no an employer that expects results from hard work. whatever is this world coming to when we can't sit on our arses and get paid to not succeed. Amurica!!!!!!!!!!!!

lilflipp
lilflipp

@punisher1 Well here is your job. Can you do it? Yes? If not we'll find someone who can get it done. If you can't keep up, then the job isn't for you.

I think a competitive environment like this is good to keep the machine progressing and keeps it well oiled. This industry is extremely competitive. You know that before you even get into it.


Here's another story about Valve.

Erik Wolpaw, a writer at Valve fell ill (diagnosed with ulcerative colitis) in 2004. He knew he couldn’t fulfil his duties at work and made the choice to leave Valve. Erik tried to quit, Gabe refused to accept his resignation and said “Your job is to get better. That is your job description at Valve. So go home to your wife and come back when you are better.” On leaving Erik turned to fellow Valver Chet and said “Well, I guess we know where we’re working for the rest of our lives.” Erick went on to write Portal.

Elann2008
Elann2008

It sounds like both parties parted ways amicably.  Seems that way at least.  


I don't think there was any fire here.  I believe that she just wasn't the right fit for Valve.  I'm sure she's very talented, hard-working, and passionate about what she does.  It wasn't what Valve was looking for.  This happens all the time. Maybe they need to redesign their hiring process so they don't waste the company's resources in the future.  

art_ty
art_ty

Why is this story trending now? It's almost 2 years old. 


Also, it is indeed terribly poor journalism. Why did she get fired? The reporter makes us think he's going to tell us something interesting and yet we're left with nothing. Some user comments tell us to "read between the lines." Okay, here's what I read: A wimpy tech reporter re-posted some gossip he found on twitter and then re-posted some comments he found on another online resource with what may or may not be information from the company's employee handbook. Did he even try to talk to her or the company about the situation? No. (If he did, why didn't he tell us what they said? Even if it was 'no comment,' it should be in the story. Any novice reporter knows that.) This grossly vapid gossip-driven world of false-journalism is a joke. 


Thanks GameSpot for teasing me with a hollow story that's almost 2 years old.

93ChevyNut
93ChevyNut

Sounds like she's got a good attitude about the ordeal.  Wish her the best of luck.

KIDFOX
KIDFOX

Do they still use those old CRT monitors at Valve? no wonder they cant afford their employees o0

Jamie-L
Jamie-L

Um...the article doesn't say why she was fired. Great journalism there.

Subterfuge71
Subterfuge71

@Jamie-L It's pretty clearly stated that this story originates from Twitter, so unless she posted the reason for her sacking on Twitter or told journalists via other forms of communication, they can't report on why she was sacked.

amar1234
amar1234

@Jamie-L its pretty obvious dude, read between the lines. She says she's fired, and then they go on to explain the company's "policy" on hiring and firing. The sink or swim thing. So they obviously expected a lot from her she didn't deliver she got fired. Read valves handbook, that clearly state you have to be really, really good or you get fired.

Elann2008
Elann2008

@amar1234 @Jamie-L

You need to be really good to survive just about anywhere and everywhere in the video game industry.  That's a given.  Even the common denominator computer programmer can kick major ass if he was a comic book character.  That's how good these game designers are.  I give them so much credit for what they do.  It is not easy!


At Valve, you need to be more than good, you need to be able to adapt and fit in with the system.  People who are not used to rotation work, working with new people daily, weekly, etc, will probably not be successful at Valve.  At Valve, they really utilize their resources and manpower, and they have expectations for teamwork and creating a platform where people could get really passionate about their work.  Often times, employees are left alone or in team groups to come up with ideas, concepts, and new projects.  If you are the type of employee that is only good at replicating ideas that were fed to you, you gotta pack up your bags.  While more creative freedom is given at Valve, you cannot squander your time.

wavelength121
wavelength121

Their loss. I've been booted from plenty of situations simply because I was smart and hard working enough to make management uncomfortable. Yet "job creators" are lauded as our country's future, lol nope. It's the employees that run the business.

amar1234
amar1234

@wavelength121 Hardly seems like she didn't work hard enough, maybe she spent too much time in youtube??vale has a very different company policy to other places. They actually want you to be a jobsworth and show initiative there. valve doesn't have the kind of management  you talking about . She clearly couldnt hack the fast pace , harcore work that was demande of her. read article they have sink or swim policy, if you don't work hard  and show your value you get sacked they dont mess around there. she obviously sucks as a engineer. ye she impressive to noobs on youtube but clearly when it comes to real complex problems she couldn't do what they wanted.

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

@amar1234 @wavelength121 Her Youtube channel hasn't had a new video posted in over a year, so it doesn't seem like that was sidelining her. in fact, I'm not even sure why it made it into the article other than for the fact it exists.

Elann2008
Elann2008

@wavelength121


I have been in situations like that as well.  There is very little room at the top, so the big heads become protective of their position, almost snapping their jaws at you if you get too close to becoming "that good" as them.  When you're younger, sharper, and more efficient, it takes a worse toll.  I hear ya loud and clear.


While I do agree that the employees run the business in a sense, you need leaders.  You can have a boat of 100 employees that have a specific set of skills, but they have no leadership qualities or experience; they will all drawn because no one is a captain.  


Look at sports teams.  Leaders emerge.  Most people are followers.  And that's okay.  While I do ask that companies with good management to treat their employees with the respect, pay, and kindness that they deserve and earned.  


And, I am in no way saying Valve is like that.  I'm speaking in general.  We don't have a clue what really went on here.  But from what I've read and seen over the many years, Valve seems to be one of the great companies to ever exist in gaming and all over the world.  

voldalin
voldalin

Sounds like Gabe just shoveled shit in our mouths. 

91210user
91210user

Shut up Gabe... don't go around spending Engineering secrets! I'm not buying the Steamcube now!

WoZe
WoZe

How long as she been with Valve?

100proofsoco
100proofsoco

Its like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from going under.

sortajan
sortajan

good lord that computer in the background is old

shadowboy88
shadowboy88

Gabe: Youre Fired!

Jeri: Wait....What??

Gabe: Just Joking, staff test

Jeri: Lol, what a messed up joke

Gabe: Hahahaha.....What??

Jeri: What??.......

StinkySkunkGirl
StinkySkunkGirl

Robin: What did you have for breakfast?

Jeri: Some roast beef, some chicken, a pizza.

Robin: No, I mean this morning.

Jeri: Some roast beef, some chicken, a pizza.

Gabe: WHO TOUCHED MY LUNCH!

Robin: Good luck! *hides*

Jeri: Aw, crap.

pip3dream
pip3dream

Something tells me Jerri isn't going to have any trouble finding a new job, probably higher paying too.

DarthLod
DarthLod

I'll hire her to be my wife.

Szeiden
Szeiden

@DarthLod Wow, first time I've ever seen a non-negative comment out of you! That was refreshing.

Henninger
Henninger

I doubt she'll be out of work for longer than a month. I say 2 weeks she'll be employed again.

HKILLER88888
HKILLER88888

"Yup. Got fired today. Time for new exciting projects"

She is like: YAY!I'm fired! TO ADVENTURE!!!what a spirit man!she would find a better job...

"You have to be really aggressive about firing people," Newell said

that's kinda funny when it comes out of his mouth !some one who can't be fired from Valve and aggressive?like when he fires some one,he also fires another two for showing ADMIN POWER?or he means like doing it like in the movies by going to the person's Office and shouting : You Are FIRED!!! F I R E D FIRED!!!!

SystemOnline
SystemOnline

"You have to be really aggressive about firing people" In that case, why don't you just fire everyone in the whole word!? Why on Earth should anyone ever celebrate someone losing a job? "Oh look, you're jobless now, you'll probably not have any money to pay for your mortgage or rent, but that's fine! Because that company is growing now, look at how much better you are now! God, I wish my parents were unemployed when I was growing up, that would've been awesome!"

egreen1984
egreen1984

@96augment @CaptainGamespot of course...Obama runs everything..executive pen master...lol I really dont like his policy but yea people do blame everything on him when there are hundreds of people that are behind the scenes that push the agendas..any president that is...

SolidTy
SolidTy

@SlimeSwayzeNo, you are an idiot if you didn't understand his joke. It's a meme. The idea is you blame Obama for things he had nothing to do with. Do some research before calling out people.

%s

mutley89
mutley89

Is the picture of her fingering some RAM the best one they could dig up?