“Ned Fulmer is no longer working with the Try Guys.” With their opening sentence, the stunt Youtube group’s first video since dropping former cohost Fulmer from their roster set a serious tone: one widely different from their usual comedy-driven content. In a five-minute video titled “What Happened,” posted late Monday night, remaining members Eugene Lee Yang, Zach Kornfeld, and Keith Habersberger gave a quick, decisive, and extremely genuine-sounding statement of facts and their plans for going forward — a move that had fans and casual observers alike telling HR departments and other companies to take note.
Last week, Fulmer was removed from the group after he admitted to having a consensual workplace relationship with one of his subordinates. A former Buzzfeed group, The Try Guys have been working on their own for the past eight years and are best known for their comedy-focused videos spanning each of the members’ unique interests, like standup, cooking, or fashion. The group stayed extremely open to viewers about their personal lives and relationships.
Before the scandal, Fulmer — a self-proclaimed “wife guy” — produced branded content with his spouse Ariel Fulmer, focused on their relationship and marriage. So when news of Fulmer cheating on his wife broke, it immediately sent Try Guys fans into a tailspin and eventually trended outside of fan spaces — birthing think pieces about whether people should care, tweets asking who The Try Guys were, and a plethora of memes involving Fulmer’s official statement.
The video, which now has 4.5 million views, wasn’t particularly polished and appeared to have been shot in one take. Kornfeld went from a wry smile to his voice breaking, while Habersberger was serious and avoided looking at the camera at times. Yang, frankly, looked murderous — an expression he kept on the entire video. The men stumbled over their words, took breaks, and generally seemed to be reacting as they were speaking, as they described how hard it was to remove Fulmer from the group.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to fully articulate the pain we feel at this moment,” Kornfeld said. “It’s hard to rewatch old videos that we love and are proud of. We’re losing a friend. We’re losing someone we built a company with, we have countless memories with.”
While open about their pain, the Try Guys were also straightforward about how Fulmer’s status as their friend didn’t affect their decision to handle the matter as quickly and responsibly as possible.
“From the jump, we were acutely aware just how contrary this was to the values of the company we’ve built and those of everyone who works here,” Yang said, taking several long pauses to get through his portion of the speech. “This is something we took very seriously. We refused to sweep things under the rug. That is not who we are and that is not what we stand for.”
This public statement had everything: emotion, facts, and three men who desperately seemed like they wanted to be anywhere else. The group said an internal review began on Labor Day weekend after fans notified them that Fulmer and an employee were spotted engaging in “public romantic behavior.” They also confirmed fan theories that Fulmer had been edited out of their recent slate of videos and intro while the review was underway. Habersberger described Ned’s confession that the relationship had been going on for some time as “shocking” and said the group was completely unaware of the workplace relationship.
According to the group’s video, it took 11 days for them to kick Fulmer out, and only after consulting with multiple outside HR and PR professionals, and lawyers. They also said there are several videos with Fulmer they simply will not release, even though it has cost them “a lot of money.”
For those on Twitter, the most surprising part of the statement was how quickly and thoroughly such a sensitive matter was handled — especially one that involved a man they publicly called their best friend. The group was praised for how they handled the situation, while others called their response a valuable learning lesson for bigger companies.
How is it that a foundling internet startup with less than 30 employees has managed to deal with such a serious situation with a response that might make a major media conglomerate jealous? In a month plagued by cheating scandals, they have come out as unlikely examples of how to handle company allegations with brevity and transparency. Maybe some bigger companies should give that a try.