Evan Spiegel loses a key lieutenant as Snapchat's VP of product leaves tech altogether

Araya Diaz/Getty Images for TechCrunch
  • Snapchat head of product Tom Conrad will leave the company in March, Snap Inc. confirmed.
  • Conrad, who joined Snapchat in early 2016, told TechCrunch that he plans to leave the tech industry entirely to focus on “music, food, photography” and art.
  • Conrad’s departure follows a round of layoffs at the struggling company.
  • Snap has lost some influential early employees in recent months.

Just months after a dramatic redesign intended to put the company back on a path to growth, Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. has lost its head of product.

Snap VP of Product Tom Conrad told TechCrunch that when he leaves the ephemeral picture-chat company in March, he’ll actually be leaving the tech industry altogether. The Verge earlier reported that Conrad was a key deputy for Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, playing a key role in the continued development of the Snapchat app.

Snap confirmed Conrad’s move to Business Insider.

“It’s time for me to put my energy outside of tech, into music, food, photography and things closer to art than entrepreneurship,” Conrad told TechCrunch. “It’s easy to put these things off forever but I didn’t want to wake up 10 years from now and not have explored these other passions of mine.”

Conrad will be replaced by Jacob Andreou, who currently works as director of growth, according to the company.

While Conrad may be looking to spread his wings, his departure comes at a difficult time for Snap Inc. Last week, the company reportedly laid off around 24 employees across eight different teams in an effort to overhaul its product to recapture an increasingly disengaged audience.

“Having a scalable business model isn’t enough,” Spiegel said in a memo obtained by Cheddar. “We also need to have an organisation that scales internally. This means that we must become exponentially more productive as we add additional resources and team members.”

Conrad is just the latest high-profile departure from Snap, Inc.: Back in November, two of Snapchat’s first 20 employees left within weeks of each other, including engineering head Tim Sehn and influential “Our Stories” feature designer Chloe Drimal.

Staff changes come amid a disappointing financial year for the company, which went public in March 2017 with a value of $US24 billion. Its last earnings report in November was a disaster, resulting in a dip to its share price of 17%. While its stock recovered since then, it’s raised larger questions about the future of the business. At the time of publication, Snap Inc. had a market cap of $US17.39 billion, according to Yahoo Finance.

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