What The Sudden Departure Of 4 Twitter Executives Can Tell Us About The Tech Industry

CREDIT: AP Photo/Richard Drew

Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey sits on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Four Twitter executives announced their departure from the company Sunday, with some citing desire to spend more time with their families.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded to media reports about the executives’ mass exodus on the microblogging platform Monday, saying they would be taking “some well-deserved time off.”

Twitter has been struggling to attract new users and retain leadership and staff, all amid declining stock prices. The number of active monthly Twitter users dropped 11 percent at the end of 2015 after the company also announced it would cut staff by 8 percent.

Ousted executives often cite “spending time with family” as a neutral reason to explain a sudden departure, but there are real concerns about how the tech industry’s demands can effect its employees.

For at least two of the departed executives, Twitter’s global media director Katie Jacobs Stanton and product development head Kevin Weil, that much needed time off will be spent with their families.

Stanton wrote in a Medium post that her departure after five and a half years with the social media company was simply about “time.”

While I’ve poured my heart and soul into Twitter, I decided to resign because it’s time for me to pour more of my energy into my family. Like most working parents, I’ve outsourced the simple things: groceries, laundry and carpools. I’m increasingly faced with the reality that I can’t outsource what’s most precious: time. Life moves fast and I want to enjoy the time with my children before it’s too late. There’s a weird stigma about taking a break to spend time with your family — but really, what could be more important?

After leaving Twitter, Stanton plans to be more present in her children’s lives, while also working on passion projects including her newly founded angel investing group and supporting women in tech and in the White House.

Weil, Twitter’s product head, tweeted that his time off would be dedicated to family trail runs.

Senior VP of engineering Alex Roetter didn’t directly mention quality time with family as a benefit for leaving but tweeted that leaving will allow him “take a step back to think about what’s next for me and my family.”

Jason Toff, the general manager for the Twitter-owned Vine, left his post to work on virtual reality ventures at Google. Brian “Skip” Schipper, Twitter’s human resources director, also resigned.

The executive shake-up at Twitter is the latest to cause worry about the company’s future. But the rapid departure of multiple executives, some of which cite the need for more time with family, could be another sign that tech’s fast-paced culture is incongruous with work-life balance.

Online retail giant Amazon was heavily criticized for its extremely stressful work environment after a New York Times piece in August detailed many former and current employees’ experiences.

The tech industry has previously been criticized for its meritocracy, which seeks out to reward hard work but can end up being discriminatory. But the emphasis of a strong work ethic through long hours and competition among coworkers has also been linked to a hostile work environment, one that incentivizes productivity but also leads to lower job satisfaction.

All of Twitter’s departed executives only have good things to say about their employer, stressing how valued their contributions were and how grateful they are to have given several years to social media company. But the repeated mention of family and needed time may indicate that employees at Twitter, like other tech companies, find striking a balance between home life and work doesn’t come easily.