Igor Bukhman, the billionaire co-founder of mobile developer and publisher Playrix, has opened up about how things have changed for the company and its thousands of employees since Russia sent troops to Ukraine on February 24.
In a new interview with Forbes, Bukhman said that he, along with his brother Dmitri, decided to put all the company’s 1500 people located in Ukraine on paid leave.
- Within the first 48 hours, the company set up hotlines and started helping employees evacuate.
- Playrix also paid an additional monthly salary to its entire headcount of 4000 people, including 1500 Russia-based employees. These measures were needed to assure the staff that the company is financially stable and ready to support its people.
- However, communication between Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian staff on Slack quickly turned into what Bukhman calls “outbursts of uncontrolled hatred between employees.” It led to Playrix closing the work chats entirely.
- “We are literally between two fires. It’s difficult for us to make decisions, but we must do it,” Bukhman wrote in a note to staff.
- Some employees started criticizing the Bukhman brothers, demanding more actions from the company, which “doesn’t want to call a spade a spade.” At least one worker left Playrix in protest.
- On March 4, Igor Buhman wrote to employees that he and Dmitri expressed their support for Ukraine “in the words we could use,” bearing in mind the latest Russian laws, which criminalize describing the actions of the Russian military in Ukraine as war.
- “[We] have 16 offices and 1,500 employees in Russia. We cannot take an open position now because we have a responsibility to our employees and families,” Bukhman told workers.
- The company has already helped 10% of its Russian workforce relocate abroad.
- Last month, Playrix eventually reopened one of the Slack channels and relaxed the rules of internal communication. It also donated $500k to the Ukrainian Red Cross for humanitarian relief.
- “We won’t be able to continue working the way we worked before, but I think we will be able to continue working in Ukraine,” Igor Bukhman said, expecting more people to quit the company in this turmoil.