Valve hardware developer Jeri Ellsworth fired

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

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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."

Discussion

153 comments
Jamie-L
Jamie-L

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

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.

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.

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!"

mutley89
mutley89

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

Kerrizma
Kerrizma

This is no big deal.  I get fired all the time.

Sandro7
Sandro7

oh boy, i can sense some long post about unfair treatment in game companies

Kravyn81
Kravyn81

Sexual harassment is no laughing matter!

Sampawende
Sampawende

This is something I find somewhat hard to ear. An employee is a tool, if you give him or her the right to take decisions then yes you can judge the outcomes but this does't stand if you are the one, in fine, who take the decisions.

Oh well I guess we'll never know who's wrong or right in this story, the only thing we'll know for sure is : to keep your place in a company you better make the cash enter... frequently...

Though, in term of business this is logic, the question is : How far do valve want to grow ?


youngzen69
youngzen69

Great :\ Valve can you now fire those Half-Life developers. Also, is Half-Life 3 destine to be another Alien Colonial Marines?

jhonMalcovich
jhonMalcovich

Gabe Newell comes to the office/basement where Jeri Ellsworth works:

"So...Jeri. Show me the prototype of the steam box you were developing for the past 12 months."

Jeri: "Oh...here it is". *See the above picture*

cryofax
cryofax

@100proofsoco Hey you mind taking a step back? You're a bit close to that edge and I'd hate to see someone come along and push you.

Szeiden
Szeiden

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

MAD_AI
MAD_AI

@SystemOnline  

Because being a wimp employer means having employees walking all over you like a doormat failing at their jobs without consequences.

There's a time for a boss to be nice and lenient and a time to crack the whip. 

themadjuggler2
themadjuggler2

@watchuwa why don't you get right back into the 19th century. People with such backward thinking don't belong in this century using computers.

SlimeSwayze
SlimeSwayze

@CaptainGamespot Let me guess:  you are stupid.

FacesMan
FacesMan

@Pie_FOREVER You almost made the Coke I was drinking when I read this come out of my nose.

SystemOnline
SystemOnline

@MAD_AI Wait, does everyone commenting on Gamespot own companies or something? Why is everyone who is employed trying to defend employers instead of themselves?

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

RavenXavier
RavenXavier

@weisguy119

Best reply/comment in this whole disscusion.  Here in America most of the normal common people have a corporate slave mentality...until they get laid off for no good reason and then realise they were laid off so some CEO d-bag could have a bigger bonus to their already million dollar salary.

What's worse is the gaming industry is NOTORIOUS for hiring people to do a game/job then IMMEDIATELY firing them once the game is done, even if the game is a huge commercial success. It's disgusting to say the least. At best the companies could be up-front and say "We're hiring you to work on this specific game, once it's done you'll be looking for another job.", but they never say that, even though today in the industry it's almost a given that you could bet on.

weisguy119
weisguy119

@SystemOnline @MAD_AI   People in America today have been brainwashed by their corporate masters to be a bunch of bootlickers. It still amazes me that people rush to the defense of companies who would lay them off in a heartbeat if it meant the CEO could get a bigger bonus check at the end of the year. The disparity between the average Joe's wages and the typical CEO's salary is getting galactic in scale, yet workers still fight for the CEO's right to take even more - it's mind boggling.

SystemOnline
SystemOnline

@MAD_AI Nobody said you! Why does everything have to do with you!? Yes, you can voice your opinion, and I LIKE CAULIFLOWERS! It just wasn't relevant to what I was saying if you think that we can't take sides in this.

I defended the fired employee because her employer, as well the people commenting, seems to have adopted an attitude that firing people is a definite route to progress, which I frankly don't entirely agree with, to say the least. Seriously, why are we arguing? Because we're literally arguing about the fact that we're arguing right now

MAD_AI
MAD_AI

@SystemOnline @MAD_AI 

No it's not, I never mentioned the employees in this scenario or Valve. But in regards to the general idea of a relationship between employee and his employer, as I said earlier, it has it's merits to be a tough boss to know when to be lenient and when to crack the whip. 

I commented because I have the right to voice my opinion, isn't that why you commented? 

And no one is celebrating someone's sudden unemployment, least of all not me, unless you're referring to the legions of idiots below then they don't speak for me.I have been both an employer and an employee, and suffered being fired before, so I take no pleasure in seeing someone loosing their job, but it irks me when someone quickly jumps up to defend someone fired as if being fired suddenly and automatically makes them a victim of a grave injustice when they could have just as well be failing at their work.

SystemOnline
SystemOnline

@MAD_AI That is a far cry from the comment you made earlier, and if that's truly what you think then why did you comment in the first place? I was merely saying that there's no reason to celebrate someone's unemployment and nowhere did I suggest that this person was unlawfully fired.

MAD_AI
MAD_AI

@SystemOnline @MAD_AI 

I'm not defending anyone, except that an employer has the right to lay off an employee if the later fails in his duty. 

Fact is neither you, I or anyone know why they were let go, and until there are fact, I do not defend either side and I see this just as normal as any other company laying off employees.