A ‘Safe Space’ From Cancel Culture in Corporate America and Governmental Overreach

A ‘Safe Space’ From Cancel Culture in Corporate America and Governmental Overreach
Red Balloon's CEO, Andrew Crapuchettes, at a staff meeting. (Courtesy Red Balloon)
Bryan Jung

Over the past decade, the rise of “cancel culture” and “woke” ideology has drifted out of the college campus and into mainstream society, becoming what some critics have described as a “cancer” in the American workplace and in the halls of government.

Thousands of individuals, including some CEOs, have faced discrimination for their beliefs or have been even terminated from their companies by activist co-workers and shareholders out of non-compliance with the newly dominant elite ideology, said Andrew Crapuchettes, the founder and CEO of Red Balloon, in an interview with The Epoch Times.

“Wokeness” in the workplace is also hurting American technological innovation and talent at a time when the United States is under threat from hostile foreign rivals like China, according to Crapuchettes, whose new start-up connects conservative businesses and workers without fear of discrimination due to their personal beliefs.

Crapuchettes said his new job service company is helping many non-woke American employers, particularly in tech and IT, place likeminded workers into careers with a priority on productivity and free innovation over political bias.

“So, if we can help push back on ‘wokeness’ and bring back efficiency, productivity, and joy of work to the workplace, I think that’s going to be a way that we can actually deeply affect culture, and do really good things for America,” Crapuchettes said.

When Red Balloon was founded in 2021 during the pandemic, it quickly expanded its mission beyond its initial focus on circumventing workplace cancel culture, in addition to governmental overreach regarding the virus.

He and his firm also have assisted firms and individuals fed up with mandatory COVID-19 regulations and the unconstitutional violation of medical privacy laws.

Crapuchettes grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, where he worked in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley for more than two decades, with a focus on 3D modeling and software architecture.

In 2001, he became a founding member and eventually the CEO of Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI), an international economic data firm, with hundreds of employees worldwide.

However, in 2021, he was fired from the company after 20 years, when the board of directors decided that he was too conservative and Christian for their liking, and so found himself unemployed.

The Great “Woke” Plague

The destruction wrought by mob-driven cancel culture comes with even greater costs than individual lives turned upside down and dreams destroyed. (Zenza Flarini/Shutterstock)
The destruction wrought by mob-driven cancel culture comes with even greater costs than individual lives turned upside down and dreams destroyed. (Zenza Flarini/Shutterstock)

After losing the position of CEO of his own company, which he built from scratch, Crapuchettes said that he was awakened to threat of “woke” ideology after realizing he was removed not for performance but for his “perception.”

He said that the spread of “wokeness” and “cancel culture” across the United States has destroyed the joy of work for many employees in the workplace and has ruined many livelihoods.

The CEO recalled that it was not too long ago in Silicon Valley that he would still debate politics over drinks with other tech people and still remain friends despite having very different opinions.

As the head of a tech company on the West Coast, he said he would regularly rub shoulders with people with different worldviews, before cancel culture took hold of society.

“In 2020, I saw my colleagues, CEOs of these tech businesses, using their company email accounts to say you must vote for Joe Biden in the most important election ever, and even firing people who said you should vote for Trump, even in their personal Twitter accounts,” said Crapuchettes.

He said that people with less resources than himself who were fired for their personal beliefs could not easily shrug off losing their jobs, and that many CEOs were beginning to realize that “cancel culture” had gone too far.

“I needed to use my resources to do what I could do to help, so that’s why I started Red Balloon in 2021,” he said.

He called his new company Red Balloon, because “the first experience on a hot-air balloon could be both terrifying and fun,” such as when looking for a job as a conservative in a radicalized work environment.

“When I started Red Balloon, I had just left this other organization that I was running, and I was just going to take a year off, and I started Red Balloon almost as like a hobby job,” he recalled.

Crapuchettes noticed that many workers and employers were fleeing in droves to red states from progressive areas, so Red Balloon was initially started as a job search board to help workers and likeminded businesses connect with one another without fear of “woke” intimidation.

Vaccine Mandates and Employee Privacy

However, within three weeks of the start of the company’s operations, the Biden administration hit American workplaces with strict vaccine mandates.

Red Balloon was founded to push back on workplace “wokeness,” and at first it was not really focused on the vaccine, although Crapuchettes said it became a “lightning rod issue pretty quickly.”

He recalled CEOs telling him that they were stuck in a tough position due to the federal vaccine and mask mandates, which applied to their companies for having over a hundred employees.

“Joe Biden became my best sales rep because he went around and terrified hundreds of thousands of workers who also found out they weren’t allowed to have their own belief about vaccines for any number of other things and businesses who wanted to actually stand for freedom,” he said.

Despite the federal mandates being struck down by the courts, many employers from tiny startups to companies with thousands of employees, along with hundreds of thousands of job seekers, were affected by what Crapuchettes characterized as a blatant power grab by the government.

“The issue was not necessarily the vaccine,” said Crapuchettes, “the issue was freedom. I had one employer say, I just hired a guy who was fully vaccinated, but he thought it was so wildly inappropriate for his employer to be asking about his medical procedures, because you wanted to find someone who didn’t care, right?”

“This makes sense, because this goes back to when we used to be able to have a conversation about HIPAA laws and things like that.”

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 is a federal law that requires the protection of sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.

Lifting the Red Balloon

A hot-air-balloon prepares to take off for the launch of the France Ballooning Championship in Mirebeau, France, on Aug. 10, 2016. (Guillaume Souvant/AFP/Getty Images)
A hot-air-balloon prepares to take off for the launch of the France Ballooning Championship in Mirebeau, France, on Aug. 10, 2016. (Guillaume Souvant/AFP/Getty Images)

Crapuchettes admitted that while creating a job board for conservative businesses and likeminded workers was interesting and a good start, it was not the most innovative concept that he had.

He envisions that Red Balloon’s larger goal will be to reinvigorate innovation with freedom of thought in the workplace, by becoming more than just a “matchmaking service for conservative employment.”

He said that his company will offer additional programs to assist businesses, such as helping them rewrite online job postings for clarity and accuracy and designing new employee manuals that truly assist employers in boosting work productivity, instead of a focus on “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI).

Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a new “woke” ideology in the workplace that ensures that companies and government offices are compliant with diversity requirements through Human Resources offices.

Red Balloon, an Idaho-based company, has over the past 12 months expanded its operations to employers nationwide, with most of the jobs offered so far are IT and technology jobs.

“I was just talking to an employer a little while ago, who said they hire IT jobs exclusively, and in a couple of months they’ve admitted that they received 77 of the best applicants that they’ve ever had, just because Big Tech has become so ideologically one-sided,” he said.

“A lot of companies have been turning to Red Balloon, saying, hey, we need someone who’s emotionally aligned with what we do and has the skill set and so, and we’ve been helping with that.”

Red Balloon’s top two states for job seekers are California and New York, with many workers from those progressive regions either looking to move or are searching for remote jobs where they can be more free.

“There’s a lot of businesses and job seekers out there who are starting to wake up and getting tired of it. but still don’t know what to do and we want to be there to help them.”

“Woke” Terror in HR

Crapuchettes has also observed that “wokeness” is the strongest in the Human Resources departments and is having a negative effect on many companies nationwide.

The American Management Association, for example, estimated that, in 2019, $100 billion was lost in worker productivity in the United States  in one year alone because of office politics, a year before millions of Americans started working at home and wasting even more time.

He said that happier employees tend to improve work productivity, while “woke” HR departments weaken morale and lower productivity.

He quoted a recent survey that said that only 18 percent of Americans trusted their DEI officers.

Crapuchettes said that the imposition of critical race theory and DEI training has made American workers less productive and that it uses up a lot of time, energy, and money that could be better applied elsewhere.

He recalled that companies which once respected the value of their employees’ opinions tended to perform better, but that lesson has been lost in many radicalized American corporations today.

“I’ve managed a lot of employees over the years,” Crapuchettes said, “and employees are truly happier when you align responsibility with enough authority in which to execute their responsibilities.”

“If you give people way too much responsibility and not enough authority to execute on that, it gets frustrating, and the problem is, there’s only so much of both to go around, so you’ve got to, as a manager, give the right amount to people,” he said.

He says that “woke” HR departments have been given too much authority over the direction of entire departments and even whole companies, with very little responsibility for their future well being.

The emboldened activists in HR are now rarely allowing their power to be challenged, even by senior management, leading to anarchy in many corporations.

He believes that the hundreds of billions of dollars being spent by American corporations on DEI training are throttling the long-term productive output of the U.S. economy.

He said, for example, that if a vice president of sales announces that he has a hiring quota, the HR department often imposes restrictions on hiring to people with the right skin color, diversity background, sexual orientation, and social media presence, thus limiting the amount of qualified workers that the executive can hire without a negative effect on the company’s profits.

One of the things that Red Balloon is now offering are HR wraparound services for companies so that they can avoid these situations.

“We’re having more companies come to us and say, hey, can you help with HR wraparound? We want help with offer letters and termination letters that will get us back to the good old American way of doing things,” he said.

Forming an Alternative to Big Tech

In this photo taken on Aug. 25, 2015, hot-air balloons rise just after dawn over vineyards in Yountville, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
In this photo taken on Aug. 25, 2015, hot-air balloons rise just after dawn over vineyards in Yountville, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

When the staff at Red Balloon first designed the platform, it was not initially cancel-proof, but they soon realized the threat and have since put time and effort into securing the company’s finances.

Crapuchettes was able to act as the primary funder of the company, because he was financially well off and thus was able to prevent it from being beholden to shareholders who might try to change its direction.

“We are more secure every day, and although it’s almost impossible to be completely cancel-proof, we would be very difficult to ‘cancel’ at this point,” said Crapuchettes.

He said that Red Balloon is always vigilant about the security of its vital database and any hostile attempts to have the firm deplatformed.

Crapuchettes said that he recently helped found the Indy Tech Council, a coalition of C-suite executive tech leaders seeking to establish an alternative to the predominance of Big Tech platforms.

“We’re basically figuring out how to work together as a council to become a force multiplier and to be in a position where there’s security for conservatives and not be beholden to Big Tech in order to to push back against this craziness,” he said.

The Indy Tech Council includes top executives from companies such as Public Squares, Parlor, Anedot, and Bizfluence, to form an alternative to Big Tech.

“It’s fun to see. I think there’s a conservative awakening happening and in a lot of places,” Crapchettes said. “I think the fact that we went from zero to working with thousands of employers in a short amount of time is just a testament to that.”