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Sacked Billboard, Hollywood Reporter IT Staff Go Rogue With Unauthorized Story Quoting ‘Animal House’

Story was later removed from Billboard website

The IT staff of The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard who were laid off en masse by parent company Valence Media on Tuesday appear to have struck back with an unauthorized story posted on Billboard’s website that mocked the employer and quoted the movie “Animal House.”

The story, headlined “Billboard/Hollywood Reporter Lays Off Entire IT Staff Due to Covid19,” was on the site for several hours before it was taken down — but not before the Internet Archive recorded it and readers shared the post on social media.

“In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, Valence Media has decided to lay off their entire web IT staff. Effective today. The online Billboard Charts are essentially perfect, so IT staff are no longer needed. Fat drunk and stupid is no way to go through life… #SavingABuckAtYourExpense,” began the post, which carried the “devops” byline and a photo of  Stephen Furst’s character, Flounder, from the 1978 comedy.

As media reporter Yashar Ali noted, “When (you) lay off your IT staff there are consequences.”

A rep for Valence Media did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Valence Media, the parent company of The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Vibe Magazine and Dick Clark Productions, began widespread layoffs on Tuesday as part of an effort to reduce expenses and turn the company toward profitability.

As exclusively reported by TheWrap last week, the cuts are expected to rise to “$9-$10 million of personnel and headcount expenses,” according to an insider at the company. The downsizing, which will also include a reduction in print publication frequency for THR and Billboard, was initially slated to be even deeper, the insider said, since losses at the media company are estimated at about $18-$19 million a year.

At least eight staffers at THR were laid off on Tuesday, according to another individual with knowledge of the situation, with more layoffs expected to take place on Wednesday.

See some of the online reactions below.