Apr 27, 2019 - 11:34 AM
Sorry, but this is a bad idea! I will ponder it some more and provide more feedback later on but here are the quick thoughts that come to mind:
- You are a little guy and these are behemoths with massive financial resources. They will sue you out of existence if you start to get any kind of attention. You will receive so many take down notices that all your time could be spent dealing with just a tenth of them.
- Your criteria seem a little too stringent. If most of the companies are receiving F grades (even companies known for their fair employment practices, like Costco) how can you be taken seriously. I could see a progressive CEO (such as Coscto's) who wants to do right by his employees, seeing an A- grade and immediately wanting to find a way to get an A. But 'F'??? His immediate reaction will almost certainly be. Who the hell is this guy? General Counsel, deal with him immediately!
- How will you make money? Like it or not, most of the advertising dollars lie with the big companies. And you won't get a cent by pillorying them. I also don't see how you could could create a compelling subscription product. Maybe be a non profit and solicit donations a la NPR? Perhaps this could work and maybe millenials will bite, along with the expensive avocado toast and coldbrew! If you want to go down this path checkout TheNextAfter.com. They have helped non-profits raise tens of millions of dollars.
- The history of sites like yours is not pretty and is littered with tombstones. Below are two examples:
Fucked Company ("Fucked company is fucked RIP")
For example, there was a site called FuckedCompany.com that no longer exists. Here is an excerpt from the wikipedia entry. Pay attention to that last paragraph!strategic lawsuits against public participation from companies.
The site was taken offline for two days in August 2002;  Ford Motor Company law firm Howard Phillips & Andersen had threatened litigation against FC's upstream provider HostGator as a means of silencing a discussion of a series of layoffs entitled "Ford, where finding a job is job one." 
Ford claimed that it infringed a trademark slogan "Ford, where quality is job one," discontinued after widespread use from 1980 to 1997.  The site eventually returned minus the news of the Ford layoffs. Even where the cases were spurious or were settled out of court for a small fee, it drained the resources of FC to fight these lawsuits. As a consumer complaint site, FC also faced increasing competition from new entrants, including social networking providers The Funded
Founded by Adeo Ressi, who initially used the psuedonym "Ted" it was also founded on the same basic premise. Exposing underhanded behavior in the venture capital world.
For a while it was hot but seems to have lost steam in the last few years and I have not heard about it. The UX is pretty dated (circa 2007, before mobile became mainstream) and it doesn't look like it gets much traffic. I suspect there was no viable revenue model and the founder couldn't deal with all the lawsuits.
Per the quote below, your only chance of pulling off something like this without being buried in lawsuits is to let the content be user generated. But then you would have formidable competitors in GlassDoor and PayScale who are focused on company aspects that are clearly monetizable.
Here's an excerpt from theFunded's Wikipedia page:The goal of TheFunded was always to provide more transparency in how venture capitalists dealt with clients.  The nature of the site's ratings and reviews, however, has been described as candid, scathing, and even nasty.  In the early days of TheFunded, Ressi adopted the pseudonym "Ted" to avoid the ire of venture capitalists in Silicon Valley.
The identity of "Ted" was a frequent source of speculation among venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. Because Ressi had heard rumors about his identity being revealed, he decided to reveal his identity on his own terms in a piece in Wired on November 15, 2007.   TheFunded was the subject of numerous defamation lawsuits from venture capital firms in 2008 and beyond.   Some estimates suggest that TheFunded received angry letters from lawyers at least twice per week. 
The lawsuits were almost universally dismissed because the Communications Decency Act stipulated that TheFunded could not be held liable for third-party comments on their website.  Additionally, the users leaving the comments remained completely anonymous. 
Apr 30, 2019 - 06:43 PM
Wow! I didn't expect such amazing, transparent feedback! Thank you so much, @Joe Busa! This is exactly what I was looking for when I made the original post. I'll post follow up comments/questions below and would love to get your thoughts, please and thanks!
I agree on the takedown notices and know even if we aren't doing anything illegal, the big guys can overwhelm us with their legal requests. Definitely, a concern so appreciate you sharing examples, including SLAPP.
At the same time, I'd argue it is a good problem to have, as we are now important enough to get their attention, however, we will certainly need a solid plan to defend ourselves. FWIW, we do have an IP lawyer on our team.
Any suggestions on how we could simplify grading? F’s moved to D’s?
The problem is, the agreements are all really that bad for the most part which was a big reason behind starting the site. We found the "best companies to work for" lists were somewhat of a joke because none of those amazing benefits (free lunch, paternity leave, stock options, etc.) will matter when you're sexually assaulted/harassed, then fired and can't file a lawsuit. This is stirring big in tech companies right now and many have made the changes necessary to improve their original grade of an F (e.g. MSFT).
How to make money? Definitely on the priority list and open to suggestions.
InHerSight makes something like $300 per job listing they post on behalf of a company. Hoping to do something similar. I would like to think the well-graded companies would be all about it.
Ads - Totally agree. Although, to blacklist our site from their ads being displayed seems like it would be overkill for every F500 to do unless we really became that big of a pain for them. Similar to the previous bullet, I’d like to think the well-graded companies would seek us out to advertise.
Non-profit route - certainly an option we have considered but should take another look at.