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March 9, 2018

2 weeks after Kylie Jenner disses Snapchat, Snap lays off 120 engineers

by John_A

Never underestimate the power of the Kardashian-Jenner clan. It’s been only two weeks since Kylie Jenner, the youngest of the reality television bunch, sent the tweet heard around the Snapchat world, and now, parent company Snap is laying off around 120 employees. And not just any employees — engineers — you know, the folks generally considered most critical to the success of a tech company. While Jenner’s proclamation that Snapchat is dead likely wasn’t really the reason that Snap was forced to reduce the size of its workforce, it’s yet another concerning sign that the company once thought to be the future of social media may be fizzling.

In fact, it’s the second time in 2018 alone that Snap is laying off employees. In an email to employees reviewed by Recode, Vice President of Engineering Jerry Hunter told team members that 120 engineers, or about 4 percent of the company’s total workforce, will soon be out of a job. “We want to unleash speed and productivity in our organization, while keeping a high technical bar,” Hunter wrote. “That required us to think carefully about the shape of the organization, and where each member of our team fits.”

This layoff is said to be the largest in the company’s history — previously, Snap has only laid off a few dozen employees at a time. Last year, a few employees from the company’s hardware unit were let go (unsurprising, given that Snapchat Spectacles were not the resounding success the company hoped they would be), and earlier this year, around 24 individuals were released from the company. There has been trouble brewing at Snap for at least the last several months, as Bloomberg previously reported that the social media giant did not award end-of-year bonuses in 2017 because employees “didn’t beat internal goals.”

We should note that the layoffs come after a period of extremely aggressive hiring. Over the course of the last two years, Snap has hired a total of around 2,400 people, or about 100 per month. But now, it seems as though some of that growth may have been excessive. As Hunter wrote in his email, the goal of the “restructuring” is to “unify the entire engineering organization as a single, powerful and diverse team that is highly productive, extremely innovative, and technically excellent.” Moreover, the executive wrote that the organization would rally “around our key priorities, specifically, addressing the technical debt that we have accrued over the years so that we can develop a product that engages customers and drives Snap forward.” And finally, moving forward, Snap will “deploy an organizational structure that aligns top talent with the most critical priorities, creates clarity around our mission, drives accountability, and rewards technical excellence in product development.”

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