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Snapchat’s biggest problem isn’t Instagram, it’s the constant executive turnover

At least 10 people who reported directly to CEO Evan Spiegel have left in the past 18 months.

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel
Snap CEO Evan Spiegel
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Snap lost yet another top executive this week when CFO Tim Stone announced he was departing.

It was a surprising announcement — Snap stock fell nearly 14 percent on the news — but what was perhaps more troubling was the way in which Stone left: Just eight months into his job, he clashed with CEO Evan Spiegel and reportedly went around his boss to ask for a raise. That doesn’t scream stability for the current state of affairs over at Snap.

But while Stone may have been the latest departure from Snap’s executive team, he’s far from the first. By our count, 10 Snapchat executives who reported directly to Spiegel have left the company since mid-2017.

That doesn’t include a number of other top execs who have left, like head of sales Jeff Lucas, head of monetization Stuart Bowers, and Snap’s controversial head of HR Jason Halbert.

To state the obvious: That’s not good. It’s hard to execute plans, work with partners, and soothe Wall Street concerns when executives are constantly shuffling in and out.

It’s also almost unheard of to see that amount of turnover in that short a time, especially for a young company fresh off an IPO. BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield wrote Thursday that the turnover was “simply shocking.” The only other companies that come to mind with similar turnover are Twitter and Uber, though many of Uber’s departures were brought on by scandal.

People leave their jobs for a lot of reasons, especially after vesting their stock options and going through the grind that comes with an IPO. But there is a common thread here that can’t be ignored: All of these people reported to Spiegel, and Spiegel can be really tough to work for.

Spiegel has been lauded as a product genius, and he’s incredibly smart and can be very charming. People like to joke that his other title should be head of product at Facebook considering how often the social giant copies his ideas. But Spiegel is also incredibly opinionated and stubborn. He demands loyalty and subscribes to the idea that you hire slow and fire fast. Not everyone is cut out to work in that environment.

The silver lining, if you’re a Snap investor, is that we’ve seen a similar scenario play out that didn’t end in total disaster. In 2016, right after CEO Jack Dorsey returned to Twitter, the company lost most of its exec team. Twitter was ripped weekly in the press. In the two years since, Twitter stock has nearly doubled and is up more than 91 percent.

Most of the names listed above have been replaced. Jeremi Gorman, from Amazon, has replaced Imran Khan to lead Snap’s business. Jared Grusd, the former CEO of HuffPost, is now running content and partnerships. Julie Henderson, from 21st Century Fox, will take over communications.

If Snap’s going to turn it around, it’s going to have to do so with a team of new faces.

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