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WhatCulture Reviews

Updated 16 Jun 2019

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2.4
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36%
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46%
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WhatCulture CEO 	Peter Willis (no image)
Peter Willis
16 Ratings
  1. Helpful (1)

    "Work hard play hard"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at WhatCulture full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Hard work pays off

    Cons

    Matt the boss isn’t good

    Advice to Management

    Sack Matt

    WhatCulture2019-06-16
  2. Helpful (5)

    "The Most Toxic Company Imaginable"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at WhatCulture full-time

    Pros

    I can’t think of a single pro. Working here for any period of time is genuinely going to make you depressed.

    Cons

    I worked a long stint at WhatCulture over several years, and all I can say is that the experience was hellish from start to finish. There are a number of reasons for this, but really it’s all to do with Matt Holmes, the immensely ill-qualified Editor-in-Chief who runs this company with absolutely no respect for any of his employees. Matt is the sort of person who will declare his allegiance to you one day and then... fire you the next. He is a user who literally sucks the life out of his employees and creates a work atmosphere built on anxiety and his own random whims. He has little knowledge regarding the subject matter and no writing skills, and yet he lords over his employees as though they are worthless and dispensable. The worst thing about Matt, though, is his relentless passive-aggressiveness, coupled with his outright refusal to promote himself on social media or reveal himself in person. He is clearly a man who knows that his reputation is downright terrible, and has no choice but to operate via computer screens and Skype conversations as a result. It is incredibly frustrating that this company has been met with such huge financial rewards. Working under Matt made me genuinely depressed; I had no idea where I stood or what I was doing at any given time. I spent years worrying about what he might say to me next, or when he’d “suggest” a new, poorly-devised work scheme in place of a previous arrangement we’d agreed upon, leaving me no choice but to accept. I still haven’t recovered from this experience and it has negatively affected my work life. I’m downright sure that the other, better staff members over at WhatCulture know that Matt is both unqualified for his post and is an all-round terrible manager, but have no choice but to humour him or face the guillotine. It’s sad. He is the work equivalent of a gaslighter - I’m so ashamed that my years of hard work have since served me no favours career-wise, but have made him tons of money. This may sound like a personal rant, but search around the internet and you will find a dozen similar tales of Holmes’ treachery, deceit and shady practices. It was these accounts that inspired me to come forward with my own story. I just hope that he gets his cumuppance in the end.

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    Advice to Management

    Hire a professional to manage the company; Matt Holmes should take a back seat, or disappear entirely.

    WhatCulture2018-11-26
  3. "Most comfortable I've felt in a job!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Newcastle upon Tyne, England
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at WhatCulture full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    It's an incredibly laid back environment where everyone chats to everyone. There's about 20 people or so in the office who all get along and have a laugh with each other. Staff nights out on payday each month, as well as when anyone fancies a pint/good food after work. There's a pool table/darts board/PS4 if you need time to unwind or fancy a game of something at lunch time. There's a bunch of different... channels that people work on, so it's easy to work on something you're interested in, whether that be Film & TV, Gaming, Wrestling, or Sport. Whilst there's a nice cafe on the ground floor of the building to get food, someone will usually mention in the works group chat that they fancy a Maccies/KFC etc and then everyone piles in and it gets delivered in. This usually happens a couple of times a week. Five-a-side football for anyone who fancies it happens once a week after work. We play each other, so first 10 or so to want to play is more than welcome. Nobody is actually fit enough to play, it's just for a laugh. Everyone now and then we'll all go play mini-golf or on scavenger hunts/days out set up by management and paid for by the company. Quiz days are a thing where management will put a quiz on during work hours and we'll get into teams and do the quiz whilst eating pizza and drinking a couple of beers. It's a good laugh.

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    Cons

    Job structuring could use some work. Other than the main two bosses, everyone else is seemingly on the same level, which can sometimes make certain projects that we're working on a bit confusing. There's no middle management (on paper) basically, and it could probably benefit from that.

    WhatCulture2018-10-10
  4. Helpful (16)

    "Worst management experience I've ever had"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Games Writer/Tech Writer in London, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at WhatCulture full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    Enthusiastic colleagues who share a passion for writing and pop culture. Decent standard of writing and good feedback from editors. My work for WhatCulture helped me get onto the career path I really wanted.

    Cons

    Dreadful, bullish management by CEO Matt Holmes, who communicated exclusively through Skype text chat, and was overbearing and unfriendly from Day One - sending me negative feedback from editors and insisting that I don't mention anything about it to the editors themselves, calling my work "lousy", and constantly reminding me that he didn't believe I was right for the job. I learned not to take this personally, as... most writers in the London office where I worked were subjected to the same treatment. No stability - I was one of several writers hired to work at WhatCulture's new London office in September 2015. One by one I watched most people in the office get sacked for the most tenuous reasons. My turn came in January 2016, when the CEO cited trust issues as the reason for firing me. The CEO seemed to take it on himself to make sure that employees never felt secure in their jobs, presumably believing that this was the way to make employees work harder. Uncertain roles - I applied for the role of Games Writer, but soon after being told I got the job, I was told that if I didn't work 70-80% on the tech section, then "we're wasting our time and this isn't going to work". Upon saying that, he put me on the spot, and demanded that I come up with 10 article ideas there and then to "show him I get what he's looking for". It was incredibly militaristic and stressful, and reflected my experience throughout. Untenable targets - The CEO demanded that I (and most writers, as far as I'm aware) write 10 list articles a week - around 5000-6000 words a day. Having spoken to fellow staff, no one was hitting these mammoth targets, yet when Matt would pick out writers to bully over Skype, he would often cite 'not hitting targets' as the reason (I should stress that last I checked in mid-2016, 4 of the 10 most popular articles in the Gaming section were authored by me, with millions of views between them, and generating continuous 'pay-per-click' revenue for the company).

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    Advice to Management

    Let editors do their job. The section editors have excellent knowledge of their given topics - certainly more than the CEO - yet the CEO had a habit of micro-managing sections and writers through Skype chat. One week, I'd be pitching to the section editor, the next I'd be pitching to the CEO, who demonstrated several times that we lacked knowledge in that particular field. In the London office, it seemed like he'd... pick a different staff member each week to micro-manage, criticise and - frankly - bully. Communicate directly with employees, listen to them - With my role so uncertain, I asked several times to have a meeting with the CEO to discuss my role at the company, but every time this was refused. I never spoke to Matt Holmes in person, apart from when he shook my hand at the WC Christmas party while barely making eye contact. In my experience and that of colleagues, the CEO (and co-CEO Peter Willis) avoid direct contact with employees as much as possible.

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    WhatCulture2017-09-13
  5. Helpful (16)

    "Home-based writers are treated like cattle"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Content Creator in Newcastle upon Tyne, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I worked at WhatCulture full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    Working as a non-contracted freelancer is a good way to earn some extra money in a field you enjoy writing about. Some of the editorial staff are compassionate, and really help you out with constructive criticism.

    Cons

    Zero training given (literally just "here you go, start writing lists") I was employed via a misleading job posting for 'Magazine Writer', and was never given an opportunity to write for WhatCulture's magazine. Only received regular contact from one member of staff, who was distant and often rude. Their online presence was completely guarded (no social media or even photographs), and I was never even granted a... phone conversation during the initial hiring process. Seemingly no logical basis for accepting pitched articles. I would regularly pitch 5+ articles a day, and have several of them rejected for being 'done to death', only to see other writers then write the very same article a week later. No editorial cohesion - some editors operate under certain rules, others under very different ones. This means as a writer working from home I was often chastised for doing something incorrectly that I had been told to do by another employee. I was given no help when I expressed concern, and was given the impression that I had absolutely no job security whatsoever. It seemed as though (partly from scanning these other reviews) that remote workers and freelancers are regularly hired, squeezed for ideas, then dumped shortly thereafter. The extremely impersonal interviewing process (no face-to-face or phone contact) should have been the initial red flag. The interviewer had to repeatedly ask me the same questions over and over again, as though they couldn't remember who I was. I was also never given a P45 upon leaving, which is a legal requirement [per HMRC.

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    Advice to Management

    Don't hire remote workers, unless you're going to bother to speak to them like human beings. It's very easy to keep personal communication up via phone or Skype, and it's just as easy to provide writers with a basic editorial guide package to help them adjust to the site's particular style. In no other job would you expect an employee to begin with no training, and with no human contact from another member of staff.... I can't speak for office-based employees, but working for WhatCulture under this particular model was extremely detrimental to my mental health. I sincerely hope you reevaluate the way you hire, train and treat remote staff in future.

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    WhatCulture2017-07-20
  6. Helpful (3)

    "Worst writing experience I ever had"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Freelancer - Freelance Writer 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at WhatCulture for more than a year

    Pros

    I am only writing something because I have. I got a little payment.

    Cons

    On WhatCulture's website they state that would help develop writers and give them feedback regarding their pieces. This is the opposite of what happened. I pitched article ideas and rejected without any explanation and only had one article published. The reason for all my other articles being rejected was simply they 'were not up to standard' and gave no further information even after asking. Other websites I have... written for have at least gave me feedback and constructive criticism. WhatCulture is just a conveyor belt of clickbait articles and treat writers as disposable. I advice any writer to avoid working for them because despite their glossy exterior is an unprofessional outfit.

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    Advice to Management

    Treat your writers like human being and actually communicate with them.

    WhatCulture2017-07-25
  7. Helpful (15)

    "3 Ups And 6 Downs About Working For WhatCulture.com"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I worked at WhatCulture full-time

    Pros

    - Tailored content to your personal interests and strengths - A fun and productive atmosphere in the main office between editors and writers - A good starter job for early writing experience if you can handle the obvious flaws in the company

    Cons

    - A cowardly boss who effectively bullies his employees (between regular playstation breaks) - No patience or planning when trying new ideas that could benefit the site in the long run - Too stubborn to deviate from the click bait format - A laughable lack of human interaction from the boss towards his minions. - Low pay and a lack of bonuses/incentives - Nepotism. Muchos nepotism

    Advice to Management

    Your employees want the site to be a success, respect them or they will continue to walk away.

    WhatCulture2017-04-27
  8. Helpful (19)

    "If You Can Survive WhatCulture, You'll Absolutely Thrive Somewhere Else"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at WhatCulture full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    It used to be a good place to hone your writing craft if you could take low pay. Many of the staff are wonderful to work with.

    Cons

    If you've read all these negative reviews and thought "it can't be that bad, I'm sure I'll be fine" let me tell you that categorically will not be the case. Everyone thinks that, everyone gets the warnings and everyone ultimately finds themselves on the receiving end of Matt Holmes. It's hard to separate WhatCulture from its CEO/editor-in-chief Matt Holmes. He is, without hyperbole, an unprofessional bully... concerned only with making more money for himself who makes your life a living hell the entire time you work for him. If anything, the other reviews are holding back. In my time there, Matt showed a complete obliviousness to how the culture, journalism and publishing industry worked, incompetence he would habitually blame on his underpaid staff. He played favourites, but was very swift to change his tune on someone without reason or warning when a new golden child came in. He also had an inability to focus, never sure on direction and introducing a cavalcade of failed projects. It should be noted that all roles are seriously underpaid. with any bonus schemes introduced pitting employees against each other and incredibly short-lived (the last time one in practice was early 2015). This has cultivated an atmosphere where everyone is out for themselves. In person Matt was very calm, but the moment he got on an instant messenger client (where he did most of his communication) he became a monster. He'd belittle in any way possible while promises and plans made in increasingly rare face-to-face meetings would be pulled back after much time and effort invested. He would threaten firings on a whim as an attempt at motivation (and got into the habit of letting people go by text). People rarely made it through the three-month probationary period due to the constantly changing goals and ridiculously high demands of workload (I have enough stories from acquaintances to fill a book). Co-founder Peter Willis was often seen trying to calm situations, but in my experience was wholly ineffective. I was with the site for two years in a senior position and was able to deal with this terrible management for a while. I became one of the biggest hitting writers and was repeatedly praised by the upper management, even getting singled out in group meetings for my performance and getting solid raises. However, after a location move to a satellite office (and thus entirely text-based conversations) I quickly found myself being professionally abused. All of the agreements regarding the move were reneged in the first month and despite being recognised as one of the most hard working employees mere months before I was consistently criticised. I was asked to work outside of hours repeatedly, had my core responsibilities changed on a weekly basis, had other tasks and perks given to new favourite employees, went days without response to basic communication, was told to stop watching films not directly related to my site commitments on weekends, consistently had my eventual scant authority challenged constantly and otherwise found my output brutishly criticised. At one particularly low moment Matt even asked me to work on the day of my Grandma's funeral (which had been booked off for a long time besides contracted personal time). I tried my best to adjust to the situation, and yet Matt openly discussed in public channels plans to manipulate firing me and described me as "unreadable and unlikable" (he also introduced a "bonus" structure that somehow offered less money), treating me like a third class citizen despite my long-standing success with the site. At multiple points I requested in person meetings to discuss the issues that were immediately shot down by Matt who would deflect them back at me with threats. I even submitted a formal grievance that Matt aggressively told me would be ignored (despite the law requiring a meeting to discuss). I was eventually made redundant when I declined a 15% paycut to move across the country, at which point he suddenly changed tact, begging me to stay. I pursued legal action on the grounds of unfair dismissal and eventually settled out of court. Even after that Matt chased me multiple times trying to rehire me (I eventually had to tell him to stop harassing me) and still now my content is reposted and used for videos (yes, that same work that was criticised for months previously). That's my unique story, but from witnessing how Matt treats staff while working there and talking to many ex-workers after leaving it's evident I'm not alone. He will belittle and demean you while you're there, then harass you to return when you go, still making money off the work he once hated. Do not work for WhatCulture (or What Culture - in four years involved in the site they never bothered to clarify branding). It is a place where an untalented man sucks the skill and ambition of good people until they want to ditch their dream career. If you ever get an offer of work, this is all you need to know: if you're even potentially good enough to survive Matt Holmes, then you can totally get a job at a better publication. Avoid.

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    Advice to Management

    1) Make Matt Holmes a non-involved shareholder and allow the obvious successor to take over his EiC role. 2) Figure out what WC actually is. Are you a WWE YouTube channel? A board game producer? A host for my old content? A brand with rather unfortunate initials? Or a genuine pop culture website? 3) Be honest about who runs the site. Don't hide behind anonymity and a lack of social media presence as if that... protects you from criticism. (To clear up a major misconception: Adam and Adam are not in anyway the bosses of WC, WCPW or anything, they're just presenters - the site started in 2006, they have been involved sine 2015/2016 respectively). 4) Most importantly, treat your employees and writers with respect. They are more talented than you and at present you're just wasting massive potential.

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    WhatCulture2017-05-19
  9. Helpful (16)

    "Looks good on paper"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Newcastle upon Tyne, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I worked at WhatCulture full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    - The office atmosphere atmosphere is generally upbeat - A fun place to work when there's not the usual office drama going on - Flexible working hours

    Cons

    - Lack of respect from management - Little to no job security - Salary is on the low side - You can try and voice your concerns and frustrations but it's like talking to a brick wall - High staff turnover - There's a specific member of the senior staff who is often overbearing and belligerent

    Advice to Management

    Most problems stem from a specific senior member of the team, which has been a major factor in many people leaving. People will continue to leave until something is done about it.

    WhatCulture2017-02-22
  10. Helpful (12)

    "Nice editors, insane management, bottom rung "journalism""

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
     
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at WhatCulture

    Pros

    The office is nice and the camaraderie in the editorial staff keeps you going. Writing about something you love is great at first, and if you love wrestling, you're set. It's a fun, strange kind of workplace and there's always something weird going on. It's pretty much one of the only jobs of its kind in the North East.

    Cons

    The senior management are nuts - and incompetent with it. There's no planning, no support, no quality control and no thought, it's all about view count and nothing else. You can be as unscrupulous, offensive, sexist, plagiaristic or flat out wrong as you like, so long as it brings in the clicks. Equally, you can try to make things better, but will be mostly ignored. The pay is terrible, and even worse if you're a... contributor, and the job security is nonexistent. Staff are treated so badly that many of them snap and leave. A lot of this doesn't apply if you're into wrestling, which has taken over, but if you want to do anything else then you're screwed. Oh, and some of the positive reviews on here were left by current employees under "suggestion" from management to balance out the negative ones. Just something to bear in mind.

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    Advice to Management

    Just sort it out. Jeez.

    WhatCulture2017-02-17
Found 25 reviews