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Rstudio - Pending Legal Matter

Jul 2020  · 3 min read

On July 1st, 2020 I shared the following message with all DataCamp instructors:

Dear Instructors,

In an effort to be transparent and out of respect for our instructor community, I would like to inform you about a pending legal matter between DataCamp and our competitor, RStudio.

Over the past several months, RStudio has continued to spread misinformation about DataCamp’s handling of an internal HR incident from October 2017 and our follow-up response to it, quoting articles that were proven to be inaccurate and intentionally ignoring the results of an independent third-party review, despite being repeatedly made aware of it.* Additionally, private exchanges between RStudio and DataCamp’s leadership clearly indicate that RStudio is not driven by corporate responsibility, but by the financial benefit it gains from disparaging DataCamp and severing its ties with us.

This smear campaign has led to our employees being treated unfairly privately and publicly, instructors feeling uncomfortable promoting learning materials for fear of backlash, and learners being bullied on social media.

We take this seriously.

As RStudio shows no intent of stopping this egregious conduct, we decided earlier this year to hire Clare Locke LLP, one of the USA’s most reputable defamation law firms, to explore our legal options against RStudio. Since then, initial legal steps have been taken.

With your help, we have built an innovative and affordable learning experience that improved data science education for 6 million learners (!) worldwide. Together we have reskilled millions of individuals and helped learners pursue promising careers in data science, helped a few thousand companies to become data driven, and contributed to the free education of hundreds of thousands of data science students via our free classroom program. We should therefore all be excited to see learners proudly share their achievements after gaining life-changing skills and celebrate instructors who are contributing to data science education.

Taking legal action is a last resort, but when a competitor knowingly spreads false information publicly for months we are forced to react. While I am expecting to receive some social media heat over this, I can no longer stand by and watch this type of behavior by RStudio negatively affect the people that care about, and benefit from, what DataCamp does.

In the meantime, DataCamp will continue its mission of democratizing data science education. One learner at a time.

Thank you for your continued support,
Martijn Theuwissen, CEO DataCamp

* A key part of their misinformation campaign is the distribution, and supporting the distribution, of an article published by BuzzFeed in May of 2019 that misrepresented an incident and DataCamp’s follow-up response to it from October 2017. Everyone can verify the article’s inaccurate portrayal of events by reading the independent, third-party review we commissioned in October 2019 (previously circulated to instructors). It is disappointing to see that RStudio believes BuzzFeed journalism (who cares if it’s true) over the professional reputation of Anurima Bhargava, a former Department of Justice official in the Obama administration, and Pamela Coukos from Working IDEAL.

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