The Snapchat parent late last year fired its head of global security, Francis Racioppi, after an investigation by the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher into his relationship with the contractor, these people said.
The probe, initiated by the company, found that Mr. Racioppi had a relationship with the woman, whom he had hired, and then terminated her contract after the relationship ended, these people said.
Mr. Racioppi on Friday said he had retained an attorney who will challenge “the veracity of the investigation as well as the results.” He said he did nothing wrong. He also said that he had started looking for other employment opportunities before he was aware of any investigation.
Jason Halbert, the head of human resources, this week announced plans to leave the company. Mr. Halbert wasn’t directly involved in the situation but he had recruited Mr. Racioppi, who also reported to him, one of the people said.
Because of this and other issues related to his performance, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel asked Mr. Halbert to leave the company, the people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Halbert, who joined Snap four years ago, is expected to stay on through the transition to find his replacement, one of the people said. Mr. Halbert didn’t respond to a request for comment. Mr. Racioppi’s departure hasn’t been previously reported, nor has a reason for Mr. Halbert’s exit.
The departures are part of an exodus from Snap’s executive team that has shaken investor confidence and put renewed pressure on Mr. Spiegel to stabilize the firm’s leadership. Earlier this week, Tim Stone, the company’s chief financial officer, stepped down after less than a year on the job and weeks before the company is set to report 2018 earnings.
Mr. Spiegel hired Mr. Stone in May after roughly 20 years at Amazon.com Inc., where he most recently served as vice president of finance. While Mr. Stone’s departure is the most serious and led to a sharp selloff in Snap shares, the other recent exits add to turmoil at the top of the company as it struggles to retain users and employees. Snap’s stock is trading around $6 a share, more than 60% below the $17 price of its initial public offering in March 2017.
Mr. Spiegel co-founded Snap while a student at Stanford University, and the 28-year-old entrepreneur maintains an unusual level of control over the company thanks to its atypical ownership structure. After leading the company to its much-anticipated IPO in 2017, he pushed through an unpopular redesign of its flagship app, Snapchat, last year that resulted in the company losing users on a quarterly basis for the first time in its history. Snap is also the subject of multiple regulatory inquiries.
More than a dozen senior employees have left in the past year. Snap’s previous chief financial officer, Drew Vollero, left after clashing with Mr. Spiegel about the company’s spending on hardware, including its video-recording sunglasses called Spectacles, say people familiar with the conversations. At the time, Mr. Spiegel surprised some of his executive team by announcing Mr. Vollero’s departure and immediate replacement.
Snap’s stock price dropped precipitously after Mr. Stone joined the company, denting his compensation. Late last year he asked Snap’s board, without asking Mr. Spiegel, to grant him a significant raise, according to people familiar with the matter. Bloomberg News first reported this development. He was also seeking a bigger role at the company to include operational duties.
Mr. Stone had grown frustrated at the drop in Snap’s stock price that effectively cut his stock-based compensation by more than half over several years. Mr. Stone was also aware and complained that Snap’s recently hired chief business officer, Jeremi Gorman, had received a larger pay package than his, according to people familiar with the situation. She had also come from Amazon.com but had been junior to him there. Neither Mr. Stone nor Ms. Gorman could be reached for comment.
While Mr. Spiegel was annoyed by Mr. Stone’s decision to go to the board, he had expected him to stay on for the foreseeable future and was surprised by his plans to leave, people familiar with the situation said. Mr. Halbert served as vice president of people and global security, according to his LinkedIn profile. Both Mr. Halbert and Mr. Racioppi were Army veterans who had been part of the special forces.
They were each given significant leeway in hiring employees and outside contractors, and what to spend on them, according to people familiar with the company. Mr. Racioppi said that all his expenditures and outside contractors were approved by top-ranking executives. “There was a process by which those things occur, and we had no ability to circumvent that process,” he said.
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Mr. Spiegel has long been concerned with his personal security. He asked for full-time armed security personnel in Snap’s offices following violent incidents in the neighborhood, but executives pushed back because of other security concerns that would come with an outside team of people with guns.
Snap, which is based in Santa Monica, Calif., is slated to report fourth-quarter and year-end results the first week of February.