Odyssey Reviews | Glassdoor

Odyssey Reviews

Updated May 9, 2017
96 reviews

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Full-time Part-time

2.2
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Evan Burns
21 Ratings

96 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Great experience as a college student (in 7 reviews)

  • Very flexible hours, kind and helpful staff, easy-to-use website when it comes to copyediting and keeping track of articles (in 6 reviews)

Cons
  • Definitely no work life balance but most of the team buys into the company's mission and are inspired to work this way (in 7 reviews)

  • My Managing editor aka the person I reported to did not understand the hardships of recruiting in a commuter school (in 10 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Great Culture & Experience Building & Operating a Business"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Odyssey full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Culture: Your teammates are like your best friends and family. The company is big on culture and it's clear by who was hired and how they operate. They are very transparent and trusting of their team (employees).

    Benefits are great: 100% covered cell phone, great insurance plan (medical, dental, vision), matching HSA, given a 100k life insurance plan, 2-week PTO from the start, all major holidays off plus Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, plus the day after Thanksgiving, and a couple days between Christmas and NYE that are out of office work days, plus a floating holiday. You also have flexible hours in office, so you can take a half day without penalty/counting towards your PTO.

    Pay: is fare market (or over) plus they give you the upside of earning a bonus (one annual amount that is paid out every 4 months with completion of the goals that you set).

    Work: It's a lot of hard work but it's really rewarding. Yes, there are the goofy articles that get traction, but there are also life-changing stories from people that never would of seen the light of day. In your day-to-day it is still like a start-up so you have to want to be in a business that isn't turn key. The bonus here though is if you don't like something you have the opportunity to fix it. They encourage you to find better, more efficient ways to accomplish tasks and goals. The huge benefit here is that it isn't like my other companies where you get frustrated because you are in the weeds and know better and management ignores you, here they want you to make it better, they empower you.

    CEO: This guy is a machine, and to many that can be a bad thing, but he is the guy that built this place so fast and essentially the reason I have a job so I respect that. He's not the warm and fuzzy kind of guy, but he does immensely care about the team and company even thought he may not show it. He goes to battle for everyone behind the scenes and doesn't get credit for it.

    Cons

    It's not for everyone - it requires a lot of hard work, and not just in hours it's that you have to build processes and operate the business. It's still start-up like in that sense.

    Another is that the tech is just not up to speed with everything else. There focus now is to tighten that up which is great because that is really the only lagging part of the business. If that was ahead of the other departments there really wouldn't be any issues.

    Advice to Management

    Make it clear what everyone is responsible and more communication. That will solve most.


  2. "Life Happens"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Content Strategist in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Content Strategist in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Odyssey full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Learning to develop on your own, face-paced environment

    Cons

    If you don't know what hustle means, you should never work for not just this company, but any start-up.

    Advice to Management

    Although I was laid off just like the rest of these reviews, I don't have any bitter feelings toward Odyssey. I do believe there were so many things that could have been improved and organized better, but they just moved to fast. People were in positions that they didn't deserve or work hard enough at (in my opinion). If you sign up for a start-up and believe in what it stands for, you SHOULD be running on no sleep to get things done. I can bet many of those who wrote these reviews are individuals who complained most of the time. This company has changed so many lives. It's sad many individuals who formerly worked here are unable to see the amount of change they were able to create and can still create with the right attitude. I wish nothing but the best for all involved as well as Odyssey.


  3. Helpful (1)

    "Content Strategist"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Content Strategist in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Senior Content Strategist in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Odyssey (Less than a year)

    Pros

    You'll work with some very innovative and hardworking individuals.

    Cons

    The management SUCKS. Most of upper management does not deserve to be in their positions. Odyssey's technology & tech team is mediocre at best.

    Advice to Management

    Hire new management.


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  5. Helpful (10)

    "Watching This Company Fail Is Like Watching Your Ex Get Fat"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Assistant Content Managing Strategist Editor in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Senior Assistant Content Managing Strategist Editor in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Odyssey (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Talented and creative people. Incredibly smart and innovative editors. Everyone is excited to share ideas, tools, and ways to be more productive. Good experience for media professionals smart enough to make the job their own to a limit.

    Cons

    Arrogant C-level management. CEO and (former) Chief of Products were disorganized failures. No communication, rushed and sloppy work, failure after failure without any preventative action. The demise of this company rests on them and I hope they never forget it.
    The digital portal for writers to use was a code-dense and glitchy chore that was never improved. Editors and writers would constantly lament about its shortcomings.
    The video rollout was an absolute failure with the editorial team blamed.
    Editorial directors were cowards who were given too much power without any real experience. Picture Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer's Apprentice—except there was no adult to clean up the mess.
    HR team were constantly making mistakes and incredibly rude when confronted about them, going so far as to file TAXES incorrectly and passing the blame to the third-party service. If they had been honest and humble about the mistake the majority of the tension would have been alleviated.
    Editorial ideas were either dismissed, worked on and never executed, or perverted and rushed to be unrecognizable.
    Lack of diversity was a constant conversation. I've never seen a company so uncomfortable with the idea of racial and gender diversity, which ironically, was the platform of the whole business plan.

    Advice to Management

    There is nothing I can say that hasn't been said already. This company is the problem with media and digital content. Strewn in its wake are the rotted and mangled dreams of its former ambitious staff. What's left are young minds too scared or naive to speak up or too misguided to see their own independent potential. This company is a leech that feeds on the minds of young writers.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Striving"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Infrastructure Analyst in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Infrastructure Analyst in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Odyssey (More than a year)

    Pros

    Energy, vision, caliber of leadership

    Cons

    Early stage company striving for the next level

    Advice to Management

    Never give up.


  7. Helpful (6)

    "Overambitious startup ignores their best talent"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Assistant Managing Editor/Content Strategist in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Assistant Managing Editor/Content Strategist in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Odyssey (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Definitely worked with some of the smartest people imaginable. You also had a great deal of freedom in your day-to-day job and tasks, which is a nice relief from most 9-5 gigs. You're also given a MacBook Pro and new iPhone upon starting. Those are pretty much the only highlights.

    Cons

    The problems with Odyssey are endless, but if I had to name the biggest ones, it would be these: the company scaled too fast, management was highly inexperienced and more than half of the managers should not have been managing people, and nearly everyone in power continually ignored the smartest and most talented people in the room.

    The work in itself involves working with remote, unpaid college students at a near 24/7 rate. You are expected to control them as people, control their writing success, and then control website traffic and success of everything published - which is impossible. Every assistant managing editor, or content strategist, is expected to hit a certain amount of pageviews based upon the teams and writers you manage. The problem is that almost everyone is expected to garner over a million pageviews in a month's time all the while managing writers who are 19, can't write, and don't understand how internet writing works. AMEs/CSs are pitted against each other and ranked, while each editors' personal photo is actually put up on a wall every day when you hit your goals (few people do, so it ends up being pretty embarrassing.) You are expected to hit monstrously high goals and then made to feel like a failure every time you fail to hit them.

    The entire structure of the editorial team is flawed to begin with, but management refuses to listen to the overwhelmingly smarter editors on how to structure workflow. Every person, regardless of skill, experience, or success, is forced to do the same job, so everyone remains equally mediocre or crappy at every task instead of being allowed to succeed at a couple of them. Too many inexperienced and naive people are trying to run a company with no real understanding of how media, journalism, or publishing works. There's a very clear sloppy misuse of funds - aka purchasing a super expensive loft space in Nolita, yet failing to hire even a part time office manager; everyone is expected to take out their own trash, bring their own water filters, kitchen supplies, etc.

    Ultimately, you never feel valued as an employee because everything you do comes down to your numbers. You are told to view your own writing teams as numbers and then managers see you as a number too. You can be everyone's favorite super star one week and immediately fall out of favor the next week if someone else had a viral article and you didn't. This company will never succeed because the wrong people are in charge, the smart people are ignored or silenced, and the employees who are quite literally keeping the place standing are so undervalued, it's absurd.

    Also, the CEO is an avid Trump supporter and has supported him since the moment he announced his desire to run for President. The company's aim to democratize content comes from the CEO feeling as if "media" has ignored "middle America" (note: the CEO is from Indiana), so the foundation of the company rests on a paranoid conservative mindset that the media needs to be taken back by "the people in small towns." It's not a coincidence that the staff at Odyssey is overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly men and women raised in fraternity and sorority life, and overwhelmingly from the Midwest.

    Advice to Management

    Value your employees. If you aim to hire smart, intelligent people, then listen to them. If you end up in a role for which you're unqualified because the CEO put you there, then immediately find help of smarter people around you. Have a real backbone and stand up to the executive team when every single person knows they're wrong. If you're going to claim "radical transparency," then, I don't know, be honest? Quit playing favorites and then dismissing people over the slightest thing. Read a book on emotional intelligence. Maybe don't try to run a company if you don't know how.


  8. "Sales executive"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Sales Executive in Greenville, SC
    Current Employee - Sales Executive in Greenville, SC
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Odyssey part-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    You create your own schedule

    Cons

    Bad Hours, No Pay, Frequent calling


  9. Helpful (2)

    "Not worth your time"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Assistant Managing Editor in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Assistant Managing Editor in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Odyssey (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Great people, fast paced environment, immediate responsibilities

    Cons

    Poorly structured company, in other words, its a sinking ship.


  10. Helpful (3)

    "Sadly, A Very Typical Startup Story"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Content Strategist in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Content Strategist in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Odyssey full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    As many others have mentioned, your fellow coworkers are your life raft. That, itself, can be quite toxic in most circumstances. But at Odyssey, the people (not management) were some of the best you've ever known.

    Cons

    Most others here have listed Odyssey's many failings. These are 99% true and you should definitely take them into account when thinking about joining this company. The job is very boring, but it's also very difficult to manage. In all of my years working in media, I've never actually experienced a level of burn-out quite like this.

    But the biggest con is CEO Evan Burns. Burns is extremely calculated, intelligent, and exacting. He ascribes to ideologies that belong more on the football field than in an office. He is callous, relentless, and charming. This makes him difficult to remove from the board, and difficult to convince that he, himself, is wrong.

    He is the archetypal startup founder, a young person found to be fully funded with dumb money, and without a proper financial and institutional vetting process. He will be used as an example of the types of founders VCs should avoid in the future.

    I can say, unequivocally, that Odyssey will not survive the year with him on staff.

    Secondly, Odyssey management has almost zero experience in media and product development. After raising $25 million, you'd think that Odyssey would have a robust and fantastic platform. It doesn't, and I'm not sure if it ever will.

    If you can handle daily smokescreens, constant confusion, intentional obfuscation by the management, a poorly structured bonus system, AND 20-40 weekly calls with unpaid student editors, then this is the job for you.

    Advice to Management

    Use your remaining runway to hire a small team of the best coders you can find in New York City. Rely on the editorial team to inform the design and functionality of a brand new app and CMS, and bring it to market within 60-90 days. I'm afraid you won't last beyond that window.


  11. Helpful (3)

    "CEO is a moron."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Content Strategist in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Content Strategist in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Odyssey full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    So much potential. Incredibly intelligent staff. Great culture at the individual contribution level.

    Cons

    Definitely no work life balance but most of the team buys into the company's mission and are inspired to work this way. Impossible to get anything done given the arrogance of the CEO.

    Advice to Management

    Listen and trust your employees, your hire incredible staff and then arrogantly ignore their input. We're all told to be leaders but it's impossible to lead if your when the company is being torn in opposing directions by a bunch of artificially empowered individuals who are mislead by lies and false/misunderstood metrics that the CEO clearly doesn't understand. Bring in a new CEO and the portion of upper management that agrees with his philosophy - that's the only way to achieve success.


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