Former Staffer at Microsoft's Mixer Accuses Top Manager of Racist Comments

A former employee of Microsoft-owned streaming platform Mixer has spoken out about racism encountered from a senior manager at the company.

Milan Lee, who previously worked in a business development role at the technology firm, shared his personal experience on Twitter yesterday, detailing how a person "calling the shots" had once claimed to be a "slave master" during a staff project meeting.

Lee said he worked for Microsoft between 2017 and 2019, making a move to Seattle in 2018 to work on the platform positioned as a rival to Amazon-owned Twitch.

"This experience was the worst I've ever had professionally and it's all due to RACISM," he wrote in a now-viral Twitter post titled: Mixer: The Black Experience.

According to Lee, who resigned a few weeks after the project meeting and now works at Salesforce, he was one of the only Black employees at the streaming division during his time on the team and came to believe he was hired to "meet a diversity goal."

Mixer: The Black Experience

Read: https://t.co/p4Q5jTiS2G

— Milly (@MilanKLee) June 21, 2020

But the incident that sparked his leaving was blamed on an unnamed senior member of staff who allegedly used a racist analogy when describing Mixer partners, which are the people who live-stream content on the platform, some with paid deals.

Lee wrote in his post: "[The manager's] analogy was 'I'm in between a rock and a hard place. What I mean is all the partners are my slaves, I own their content. I control their success on our platform. For me I am the slave master, I own partners.'

"I got angry, pissed off and honestly I didn't want to work at Microsoft/Mixer anymore. My manager saw my mood was not the same and decided to have a 1:1.

"Within that meeting I told her why I was angry and why her using that analogy was NOT okay. She decided to defend her statement and even had the nerve to Google that analogy to prove why it was okay," the former Mixer staffer added.

"After Google showed her it was NEVER okay to use that analogy, she told me I need to work on myself. If I wanted to go far in this industry I need to work on my emotions and feelings to similar comments. After this meeting I knew I was leaving."

According to Lee, he reported the manager's comments to start an internal investigation, which ran for months before concluding the manager did nothing wrong.

"One day late last year I get a call from the legal team with their final findings. That finding was not guilty! The reason my manager was not penalized and the reason she still has her job today is because she CANNOT be racist. The reason she CANNOT be racist is because she hired a black person," he wrote in the Twitter post.

"Now I have a lot of close friends at Mixer and I don't want you to think they are all bad. But one of the main people calling the shots has zero respect for any partner not their platform. She believes you all are slaves and she owns your future and content.

"I stood up to her because I refused to let anyone be classified as such and I hope no partners feel bad I did so. I do not care about how big a company is or their market share. If we do not have the same values, if you cannot be intelligent enough to know racism isn't tolerated then I will not work for you or your company."

In response to the accusations, Mixer responded in a tweet: "Our goal is to build a positive, welcoming, and inclusive team and community. To those sharing your stories; it's unacceptable that we did not provide that for you. We'll be vigilant in addressing this more diligently in the future. Thank you, Milan and to the entire community."

Our goal is to build a positive, welcoming, and inclusive team and community. To those sharing your stories; it's unacceptable that we did not provide that for you. We'll be vigilant in addressing this more diligently in the future.

Thank you, Milan and to the entire community.

— Mixer (@WatchMixer) June 22, 2020

On June 1, Mixer tweeted that it is "proud to support the Black and African American Community on Mixer" and it stands "united against racism and injustice." It was not immediately clear if the manager in question remained employed at Mixer.

A Microsoft spokesperson told Newsweek via email: "We do not tolerate any form of discrimination and thoroughly investigate all employee concerns. We do not discuss the details of such investigations." It did not respond to multiple specific questions.

Phil Spencer, who is the executive vice president of gaming at Microsoft, thanked Lee for sharing his experience. "If willing, can we connect so I can learn and understand more? Racism will not be tolerated on our teams or on our services," he wrote.

Lee confirmed a meeting with the top executive has been scheduled, but Mixer has been facing a severe backlash by some streamers who use the platform.

"I will no longer stream on Mixer until this person is removed. So disgusting. Sorry you went through that Milly," tweeted game content streamer @KingBaileyBomb.

Foxyzilla, a Mixer partner who streams content full-time for a living, also tweeted: "I will not be streaming on Mixer until something is done about what Milly BRAVELY came forward to us all about. I urge you all to do the same, take a stand, bond together."

This article was updated with a comment from Microsoft.

Mixer Facebook Image
This photo was uploaded to the Mixer Facebook account on 1 September, 2018, taken during the Pax West gaming conference. Mixer/Facebook/Pax West