In my experience with Ladder (Head Office), it depended entirely on who you dealt with/reported to.
As a company, they tried numerous twists and turns to avoid paying severance when they laid a bunch of people off last summer. But, thanks to a few honest and decent managers, quite a few of us got exactly what we were owed.
I didn’t have much to do with Mr. Yen, so I can’t comment on him as a person.
The publishing output really varied, from “dubious” as Fox put it, to some quality things. Of course, I’m a bit biaised in my (self) assessment here. There were a few foreigners working at Ladder on a magazine, and another few in training. They put in an honest day’s work and cared about the quality of their output. There were also quite a few local staff who worked hard and did good work.
Of course, the office also had a full compliment of staff who literally punched in, logged onto MSN and only logged off to punch out. One memorable occasion had an ABC girl in “phone support” get busted for having another person punch her in (she’d regularly show up to punch in, leave and then come back to punch out 8 hours later). Her punishment? Some giggly “Ni hao hwai!” and nothing more.
Then there was another type: The super officious, high-and-mightier-than-thou office “elite” who did nothing more than haughtily walk around brewing another in an endless series of cups of tea.
The VP was known as the Monkey Queen for her appearance and attitude. In China, where workers have less rights, she fired Ladder staff left and right if she didn’t like something about them. Pfft! Be gone. At the head office in Taipei, she’d stalk around with her bizarre jerry curl hairdo and crazy night market ensembles glaring at anyone who crossed her path. She was constantly trailed by female lackeys who hovered several steps behind, endlessly cooing and fussing over her every word and gesture.
So, it was a mixed bag.
I can’t say I’m surprised they’ve gone under. Too many chair warmers in the company, and ludicrous amounts of cash thrown at some projects (the last I saw was an AI project - interactive talking robot that broke down in Mr. Yen’s hands at the grand unveiling in front of 6000+ staff, press, etc.) that did not result in returns. Another example was their hiring an expensive HK actress to be the spokesperson on TV commercials while selling a multi-channel computer TV package without content for a good percentage of the channels offered.
Sadly, I think many Taiwanese customers were ripped off, and by the sounds of it, a number of staff as well.