Former Snap employee Shannon Lubetich. Picture: Cheddar
Former Snap employee Shannon Lubetich. Picture: Cheddar

Snapchat worker’s scathing memo

A FORMER employee of Snap Inc. who sent a scathing internal memo on her last day has blasted the picture-messaging app company's "toxic" and "sexist" culture.

Software engineer Shannon Lubetich quit in November last year citing concerns about a lack of diversity. On her last day, she sent a farewell email to around 1300 of her engineering department colleagues.

In the email, which reportedly went off like a "hand grenade" inside the company but has only now been published by tech and business news website Cheddar, Ms Lubetich said it was her "deepest hope" Snap could become "a place that is kind, smart, and creative".

"I'm just done fighting for it when very few other people seem to care," she wrote.

She listed a number of things an engineer could be, including "a person who takes more than two days off when their child is born", "a person who isn't straight, or doesn't want to get married and have kids", "a person who doesn't drink Red Bull or alcohol", "a person of colour" and "a woman".

"It's fine if this list doesn't describe you," she wrote. "But it's not fine if you think, consciously or subconsciously, that these traits prevent you from being a good engineer."

The email came amid a growing public debate about the culture inside big tech companies like Facebook, Uber and Google.

The email was sent to around 1300 employees. Picture: Cheddar
The email was sent to around 1300 employees. Picture: Cheddar


The same day, senior engineering vice president Jerry Hunter replied that he was sorry he didn't get to spend more time with Ms Lubetich.

"I mentioned that I participate in a Women in Engineering group," he wrote. "The leaders in that group and I are committed to making Snapchat an even more inclusive place and I'm sorry that you won't be there to add your voice to our journey. But I know you'll be there in spirit."

Ms Lubetich told Cheddar "the diversity is pretty bad" at Snap, which confirmed just 13 per cent of its tech roles and 22 per cent of senior managers were women.

"It doesn't seem like leadership really cares," she said. "When all of the eight people who speak at your internal all-hands are white males it really doesn't seem like they're caring about making an inclusive culture."

Ms Lubetich said she didn't experience sexual harassment first-hand but "based on the cultural vibes I got I wouldn't be surprised if that happened".

She said she raised specific concerns about an employee who she overhead making a penis joke with another male colleague, and on another occasion she filed a HR complaint against him after he jokingly used the word "retarded" during a meeting.

That employee quit at the same time as Ms Lubetich.

In an email, he said he was taking a break from the tech industry and thanked her for "holding me accountable to my behaviour".

"I sincerely apologise if I offended anyone with my choice of words or an off-colour joke," he said.

According to Cheddar, Snapchat last year hired scantily clad models in costumes resembling the popular "deer" filter for a party attended by co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy.

"The intent was for these three performers to represent the deer lens - but it was a mistake and hasn't happened since," a company spokesman told the website.

Snapchat this month began to roll back some of the features of its controversial redesign that sparked a major backlash from users. Earlier this year, the company's stock lost the better part of $2 billion when model Kylie Jenner tweeted that she no longer opened the app.

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