CEO email-blasts 10M customers to endorse Joe Biden

However, critics are calling out the 'inappropriate' use of customer data

CEO email-blasts 10M customers to endorse Joe Biden

While some business leaders are steering clear of political discussions in the workplace, one financial technology CEO used his corporate mailbox to urge millions to vote for his presidential candidate.

Failing to vote for Democrat Joe Biden is, in effect, a “vote against democracy,” said Expensify CEO David Barrett in his Oct. 22 email blast.

The message supposedly went out to as many as 10 million customers and is now published on the software group’s online discussion board.

Read more: Talking politics: How to deal with employee conflict

“I know you don’t want to hear this from me. And I guarantee I don’t want to say it. But we are facing an unprecedented attack on the foundations of democracy itself,” Barrett said before taking a jab at US President Donald Trump.

“If the polls are accurate, there’s a roughly 50% chance that you agree Trump needs to go,” he said.

“You know what to do: show up on November 3rd and vote for Biden. Or even better, don’t wait until then: vote today,” the CEO suggested before presenting a collection of questions and answers “intended to address the concerns of those who disagree”.

In the email, Barrett also addressed the notion that companies should remain neutral on political matters.

“As CEO of this business, it’s my job to plot a course through any storm – and all evidence suggests that another four (or as Trump has hinted – eight, or more?) years of Trump leadership will damage our democracy to such an extent, I’m obligated on behalf of shareholders to take any action I can to avoid it. I am confident our democracy (and Expensify) can survive a Biden presidency. I can’t say the same about Trump. It’s truly as simple as that,” he said.

Read more: Politics and respect at work in election season

Not everyone applauds the move, however. Some critics called out Barrett for his alleged misuse of customer data and for pushing a political agenda.


 Others commended Barrett’s action.

The CEO said he sent out the endorsement because he believes “doing nothing is an endorsement of the status quo,” he told Protocol. He wasn’t simply “firing off an email out of the blue”.

“This was the result of an inclusive process that really engaged the whole company across a wide range of opinions. And this is a genuine effort just to make the world a better place using the tools at our disposal,” Barrett said.

The email blast is in stark contrast to the move of another tech CEO – Brian Armstrong – whose cryptocurrency startup Coinbase is offering a severance package to any employee who disagrees with his vision of an “apolitical” work culture.

“We’ve seen what internal strife at companies like Google and Facebook can do to productivity, and there are many smaller companies who have had their own challenges here,” Armstrong told staff.

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