House Full of Shit
An end of week roundup of shit including Zuru and Arise Church.
Today’s Webworm jumps all over the place — but I wanted to update you on some stories, then turn to some of your feedback. It’s been a busy old time here at Webworm. So let’s get into it.
First up — as is the case each week, there’s a new Flightless Bird episode out. This week, I travel to Seattle to understand American football — and discover I am very bad at it.
You can find where to listen to the episode here, on my Linktree.
Secondly — no, there is no sign of the independent review into Arise Church. I nag them weekly, believe me.
As previously reported on Webworm (although the church is yet to mention this) it’s now an employment issue, tied up with the Employment Relations Authority. Basically, since John Cameron resigned and is no longer Big Boss, he’s using this new status as “pleb” to gag his old employers… AKA the megachurch he founded.
It’s all fucking fucked up.
I’m keeping at it.
Now, Zuru. After I broke the story earlier this week about the billion dollar company’s successful legal action against Glassdoor, the story spread around the globe:
Look — I’m allowed to toot my own horn from time to time. I’m a tiny newsletter. Toot toot. The story would have eventually found its way into the world independant of me, and I’m glad it’s out there.
The good? Over 150,000 new people read that Webworm piece. The bad? Only two of them chose to take out a paying subscription (dear God thank you for those that support me). Onwards.
Since then, I’ve been thinking about Zuru and what the company represents. The way they went after those bad reviewers stuck with me. I guess if you boil Webworm down, a big theme is bullies, and those gaming the system to bully people. Disclaimer to Zuru’s lawyers: I’m not necessarily talking about Zuru.
I thought about Zuru some more when I saw this tweet:
Under it, a list of tips to manage the heat:
“END FOSSIL FUELS Stop fracking and drilling.”
“STOP EXCESSIVE FLYING NO MORE PRIVATE JETS STOP MAKING PEOPLE FLY FOR WORK TRAINS TRAINS TRAINS.”
“Save the rainforests.”
It’s a bleak post in that it’s very clear humans are incapable of coming together to achieve any of this.
The tweeter made two final points:
“Quit manufacturing stupid plastic shit” and “most of all: NO BILLIONAIRES, STOP SIMPING FOR THE RICH, The ultra wealthy are ravaging the planet.”
I thought of Zuru, the empire of plastic which has made Nick Mowbray and his family billionaires. The New Zealand “success” story has China to thank, where Zuru makes its millions of plastic products that literally shoot more plastic out onto planet earth:
A photographer sent me that photo this week — he took the shot in Zuru’s Chinese factory back in 2012:
“That guy was the end of the production line, his job was to fire a bullet into the rubbish bin to test that it worked,” they told me.
Of course, this is all a thing to celebrate. A New Zealand company making billions of dollars — it’s what we should all aspire to. Don’t have a billion dollars? Better end your life now, before the planet does it for you. Get out the confetti.
The billionaire’s aren’t just praised, they’re given column inches to weigh into giant issues they don’t fully understand.
During Covid, Nick Mowbray was given a column in New Zealand’s biggest paper, The Herald, to weigh in on the Government’s response to the pandemic. ‘Lack of priorities reveals worrying signs from the Government’ he shouted. As Webworm reader KiltedKiwi pointed out, “Being super successful at one/two/three things doesn’t mean you know how to run a Country in a global pandemic.”
It reminded me how much billionaires love wading into issues they have no great knowledge in. They can’t help themselves. They’re richer than us, so they’re smarter than us.
As for Zuru, the praise goes on and on:
In that last article, Nick Mowbray’s sister Anna Mowbray beams from within a halo of plastic shit:
I googled “Anna Mowbray”. Her partner is former All Black Ali Williams. Thanks to Newsroom I discover the couple are doing some really cool stuff:
“Endangered dotterels have been discovered on Auckland suburban mudflats directly below where former All Black Ali Williams and his partner, part of the Rich List Mowbray family, want to build a helipad.
Williams and his partner, Anna Mowbray, have applied to be able to bring a helicopter on to a patch of lawn close to the edge of their property directly above the shoreline. They are asking for two flights a day, seven days a week.”
Members of the Quiet Sky Waitematā say they were amazed to find two kinds of dotterels and five other threatened or at risk species foraging or roosting within 50 metres of the shoreline below the proposed helicopter landing site.
I’m not sure how much you know about dotterels, but they’re one of the sweetest, most fragile birds you’ll find. They lay their eggs on the beach — where they’re promptly eaten by rodents, or crushed by stray feet and roaming dogs. They’re utterly incapable of defending them. There are only 2500 dotterels left.
They’re timid as fuck. Dotterel v Helicopter. Who do you think is going to win?
I think of the dotterels. I think the helicopters. I think of Zuru’s love of luxury boats, and the people they attract. This was Nick’s boat last year:
A New Zealand Davis Cup tennis player has apologised after being filmed mocking Māori culture.
Taranaki’s Ajeet Rai, 22, is to be sanctioned by Tennis New Zealand after videos of him performing pūkana were posted on social media.
The videos appeared […] with Rai, New Zealand’s third ranked tennis player, and other party goers laughing as they did pūkana and used a stick as a taiaha.
The party, on a $21 million boat owned by Zuru founder Nick Mowbray, included music by Belgian DJ Netsky, who posted the initial video of several people performing pūkana.
A sea of money and whiteness.
I felt annoyed, also remembering a report from Craccum last year by Eda Tang — ‘Free Labour to be in to win a Helicopter Ride’ — a story which saw a thinly veiled legal threat from Mowbray to the student magazine.
I went back to check my Instagram DMs. I’d sent a string of questions to billionaire Nick earlier in the week. I wanted to know if Zuru was actually planning on suing those who’d written bad reviews, now that a judge had ordered Glassdoor to cough up their details.
Turns out Nick had replied.
The quote marks around his own DM were strange. I’m not sure if he was quoting Zuru or himself. I’d say it was company PR, but it had multiple spelling mistakes. Maybe he has gotten to that insufferable state of billionaire where you speak in the third person.
But what’s even more interesting is that he doesn’t answer my question. He doesn’t say if they actually plan to take defamation action. There’s just this: “It was not until we took legal action that Glassdoor took action and removed those fake reviews.”
Zuru’s actions also mean Glassdoor has to carry this scary warning — no doubt putting off anyone who wants to leave a negative review:
So going on what Nick Mowbray said to me, it seems like all Zuru wanted was those bad reviews gone. I’m not convinced they’re actually planning to take legal action against the reviewers.
But I guess they needed to say they were going to, to have a reason to initiate the legal action against Glassdoor — legal action which meant the bad reviews were dropped.
Zuru doesn’t need to win in a New Zealand court. They’ve already won.
It’s so fucking odd. Time will tell, I guess. I leave a pithy reply.
Those messages sit on “seen”.
If only companies like Zuru were like Webworm reader Em:
“I employ people. Sometimes people who leave are unhappy and sometimes they post negative comments on social media anonymously. Sucks when they do and it always makes me reflect on what we could have done differently as an employer.
Also makes me work harder with my team to ensure they have a positive experience — happy employees are the best recruiters. Would it ever occur to me to track disgruntled former employees down and sue them? The fuck it would.
How could that help you improve your rep in the market?”
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