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EK whistleblower decries racism at PC water cooling firm

A former EKWB employee describes a working environment beset by racism at the cooler maker, following reports of financial mismanagement.

EK Vector GPU waterblock

A former employee of PC water-cooling manufacturer EK has described a toxic working environment that’s beset by racism and unprofessionalism, as well as a lack of knowledgeable staff. The comments follow reports online about EK “imploding,” with allegations that the PC water-cooling company is behind on payments to numerous members of staff, as well as contractors and suppliers.

EK is one of the biggest PC water cooling companies in the world and charges a premium for its products, which include waterblocks, reservoirs, and radiators, as well as complete, closed-loop AIO coolers. However, the picture inside the company doesn’t look as rosy, particularly if you’re a person of color.

Dan Henderson, who left his Business Development / Product Manager role at EK Fluid Gaming in March 2024, and was previously an Account Manager for EKWB, shared screenshots with us of internal EK communications on Microsoft Teams following his departure. They show staff making racist jokes while talking about an EK product line. One staff member replaces the word ‘black’ in the product title with the N-word, while referencing the EK-Quantum Impulse 120 D-RGB fan.

This message, which has three laughing emoji reactions, is followed with the words “don’t screenshot this.” Another member of staff then changes the N-word to ‘PoC’ – referencing people of color – to “get [it] correct” while joking that “we’re good” because there are no “PoC in the chat.”

Henderson has also experienced racism first-hand. “I stood and listened to the head of sales walk up to one of my techs in Texas, who is black, and say [a racist joke],” he tells us. “He just shrugged it off and walked away. I found myself apologizing to him.”

In response, EK told us that “we would like to express that at EK we take all allegations very seriously, and the situation has deeply affected us. We have already started [an] internal investigation about all allegations, and we are going to act according to the results.

“EK fully supports diversity and inclusion among employees. Any actions related to discrimination such as racial, sexual, religious, political, physical or psychological violence are not tolerated in the EK working environment and any EK team member can and should report it to the HR personnel. We have policies and legal actions in place if violations happen, however we can only act if they are reported.

“The mentioned incidents were both handled internally with involved people, and actions were taken. We are encouraging all employees, current or former, that have been directly involved or have witnessed similar case[s] to make an official report about it.”

Meanwhile, YouTube tech channel Gamers Nexus has just published an investigative report in which it claims “EK is imploding,” quoting multiple sources at EK’s partners and suppliers, as well as Dan Henderson and other anonymous employees.

The video, which you can see below, outlines invoices that have been outstanding for over four months, five-figure sums owed to suppliers, along with many other complaints. Anonymous employees reportedly told the channel that the company has “a liquidity problem” and that “all the money is tied-up in stock. We just don’t have the liquid funds to pay people out even though we have the money.”

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In a public LinkedIn post, Henderson says the company can “do nothing but fail,” and describes his last year of working at EK as one of the most stressful in his life, after being left with a “skeleton crew” following a mass exit of his leadership team. He explained to us that, in the end, it was left to him to “keep the lights on” following the exit of the Chief of Operations.

Henderson says he did this until September 2023, with no pay rise offered. “I was still the Key Account Manager, but I was the most senior [person] in the Fluid Gaming team.” The cuts aren’t necessarily down to a tough market either. “It’s [EK] in financial trouble because of greed,” he alleges.

In response, EK told us that “the EK Fluid Gaming SI venture was initiated to develop EK Water Block’s operations beyond the primary business. Creating entirely new competencies, processes and strategy was necessary to fulfil this ambition.

“Along with market, business, and personnel changes, our needs regarding resources must occasionally be redefined. Naturally, sometimes roles are developed, consolidated, or added resulting in a need for revised agreements.

“In the case of Mr. Henderson, there were a few invoices that were not issued on time or to the designated point of contact for payments. Despite all of this, all debts towards him have been settled.”

EK has now also published an official statement, in which it acknowledges that “it is true that some of EK’s external contractors and business partners have experienced delayed payments. We sincerely apologize for the difficulties this has caused them and the lack of adequate communication.”

In the statement, the company outlines a number of actions it says it will implement immediately, including open communication about outstanding payments, reconciling the relations and communication between all EKWB’s subsidiaries and entities, and improving the transparency and frequency of internal communication with EKWB about the current situation.