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Another Oni Press staffer reveals what's going on inside company, and how the public statement "reaped the whirlwind of their failure"

A staffer shares their take on what's happening at the troubled publisher

Oni Press logo, reversed
Image credit: Oni Press

The company officially known as the Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Company has had a visibly bad past few weeks, with the removal of its two top executives, the dismissal of four further employees, and now the resignation of its associate publisher, all taking place within the past 33 days. As a result, there is a significant amount of concern and confusion about what is actually going on at the company.

A staffer currently at Oni-Lion Forge spoke to Popverse on the condition of anonymity to talk about the atmosphere inside the company after the loss of over a third of the company’s staff across the past few months. According to them, the cause of the recent trouble is what many on social media had assumed: the 2019 merger between Oni Press and Lion Forge , which gave Missouri-based company Polarity control over the indie publisher.

“The only positive thing I can say about the Polarity merger is that it kept Oni open through the pandemic/lockdown,” they said, adding that everything beyond that has been the kind of disastrous decision making that has resulted in the loss of 13 staff members in the last few months and failure in some basic business practices. Specifically mentioned was the tracking and payment of royalties, something that Oni-Lion Forge has been criticized for in recent weeks.

While that was happening, the staffer said, Polarity was consistently demanding greater profitability from Oni-Lion Forge, prompting a series of layoffs that resulted in what was described as “an ongoing battle that was eventually resolved by firing the person trying to keep layoffs from happening.”

The overall situation at the company right now was described as one of disarray, especially in light of the departure of Michelle Nguyen, with many executive decisions being made by Polarity executives in St. Louis, rather than by anyone in the Portland, Oregon offices of Oni.

One such decision was the publication of a controversial statement posted on Oni’s Twitter account in response to news about the layoffs. The anonymous Oni-Lion Forge staffer confirmed that the statement was written by Polarity executives and marketing staff, and then “forced on our social media person, who told them not to post it.” The staffer continued, “They thought it was so good. They did not listen to anyone who told them it was not, and then we reaped the whirlwind of their failure, like pretty much every week this month.”

It was suggested that others had considered following Nguyen’s lead and resigning, but that a number of reasons – including concern for creators whose titles remain contractually bound to Oni-Lion Forge – had convinced them to stay, at least for now.

Popverse has reached out to Polarity for comment, with no response as of writing.

The situation at Oni-Lion Forge is continuing to develop, and Popverse will update the story as we know more.

Read our story speaking with another Oni Press staffer about the state of company morale.

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