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Guy who wrote women are 'soft, weak, cosseted, naive' lasted about a month at Apple until internal revolt
Ad tech engineer out after autobiography sparks protest – and what does this say about iGiant's hiring process?
Updated Antonio García Martínez, hired by Apple last month as a product engineer on its ad platform team, no longer works for the iGiant following an employee petition objecting to his writings disparaging women and people of color.
The petition, obtained by The Verge, is addressed to Eddy Cue, Apple senior veep of internet software and services, and points out that Cupertino advocates for inclusion and diversity.
The complaint details multiple "overtly racist and sexist" passages from García Martínez's 2016 book Chaos Monkeys, an autobiographical account of life as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, such as: "Most women in the Bay Area are soft and weak, cosseted and naive despite their claims of worldliness, and generally full of shit."
And it demands that Apple investigate how its hiring process could have missed or ignored these statements, and present a plan to avoid hiring blunders in the future.
Apple confirmed that García Martínez is no longer with the iPhone maker, without characterizing his departure as involuntary termination, resignation under pressure, or otherwise.
"At Apple, we have always strived to create an inclusive, welcoming workplace where everyone is respected and accepted," an Apple spokesperson said in a statement to The Register. "Behavior that demeans or discriminates against people for who they are has no place here."
The Register asked García Martínez whether he would care to comment, and we've not heard back.
Been here before
More than a few women have condemned García Martínez's behavior via social media. And computer scientist Chip Huyen articulated her concerns about García Martínez and his book in a 2019 blog post.
"Here’s a man who boasts about abandoning his children, lying to his co-founders, marginalizing women and people of colors," she wrote. "Yet he continues getting hired by big tech companies and being embraced by decision makers in tech who happen to be men."
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Tech investor Paul Graham, co-founder of startup founder Y Combinator (García Martínez sold his Y Combinator-backed company AdGrok to Twitter), defended the ousted product engineer, who worked previously as a product manager at Facebook, among other companies.
"Antonio García Martínez is actually a good guy," tweeted Graham. "He might write the occasional shocking thing for effect, but he'd never, for example, organize a petition to deprive someone of their livelihood."
In a heated Reddit AMA chat four years ago, after being asked, "Why are you such a colossal dic****?", García Martínez described himself thus: "Outsiders who know nothing about Silicon Valley think I'm terrible. Insiders who know the game well think I'm actually honest, self-deprecating, and funny, and actually tame by Valley standards."
The incident has echoes of former Google engineer James Damore's internal memo critiquing diversity goals at the search giant in 2017, which ultimately led to his dismissal and a failed lawsuit.
Apple's gearing up for new ad wars
Beyond demonstrating that speech is free but not necessarily without consequences, and that tech companies have to be reminded of their diversity and inclusion commitments, the ousting of García Martínez invites questions about whether Apple overlooked red flags in its eagerness to hire ad tech talent.
It's doubtful Apple will ever issue a public account of its hiring process in this case. Even so, the company's push into ad tech is noteworthy given how much it has marketed its commitment to privacy and frustrated ad giants Facebook and Google.
Apple currently has over 120 US advertising jobs posted, many recent and related to the development of new ad technology. While the company's introduction of its App Tracking Transparency framework has placed limits on third-party data collection, Apple is expanding its first-party advertising infrastructure. For example, the company has just introduced Search tab campaigns, to allow app developers to pay to promote their apps.
"The Software & Services team at Apple is part of Apple's growing effort to create a large contextual advertising department that can still capitalize on Apple's Privacy branding and rhetoric, while creating new opportunities for developers, publishers and marketers to reach new audiences," said Zach Edwards, co-founder of web analytics biz Victory Medium, in a message to The Register.
"Apple's brief hire of [Antonio García Martínez] should tell the world that Apple has aggressive recruiters trying to solve complex advertising problems, and they specifically had an interest in someone who previously worked on Facebook's advertising systems, as well as a Deep Link attribution company, Branch."
Presumably, Apple's next ad tech hire will get a more thorough vetting. Graham, however, contends that "it's a bit draconian" to argue "that in a world of properly run companies, [someone like García Martínez] should never work again."
Had García Martínez chosen to respond to our inquiry, we'd have asked whether working again is necessary, given that he sold a company to Twitter and worked at Facebook before and after its IPO. We're left to wonder what the proper punishment is for being a ****** ******* and whether there's a viable path to redemption or just a safety net of companies uninterested in the opinions of women and people of color. ®
Updated to add
García Martínez has broken his silence on Twitter to say: "I did not 'part ways' with Apple. I was fired by Apple in a snap decision." He also claimed the persona he put across in his book does not match his "real" one.
"Apple actively recruited me for my role on the ads team, reaching out via a former colleague to convince me to join," he said.
"Apple found my experience in the ads space, specifically around data and privacy, highly relevant to their efforts and persuaded me to leave my then role. I upended my life for Apple. I sold my WA residence which I built with my own hands, relocated myself, shut down any public media presence and future writing aspirations, and resolved to build my career at Apple for years to come.
"Apple was well aware of my writing before hiring me. My references were questioned extensively about my bestselling book and my real professional persona (rather than literary one). This set of prominent Valley VCs and execs are all willing to assert as much under oath.
"Apple has issued a statement that clearly implies there was some negative behavior by me during my time at Apple. That is defamatory and categorically false."
Also, Matt Taibbi pointed out Apple was happy to pay $3bn to Dr Dre for his Beats by Dre headphones company – the rapper known for tracks titled, er, Bitches Ain’t Shit and Lyrical Gangbang.