Monitors display Snap Inc. signage on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)

Snap CEO Picked a New Business Chief, Then Changed His Mind

(Bloomberg) -- On a recent Friday, Kristen O’Hara got a major promotion: to become Snap Inc.’s chief business officer. Chief Executive Officer Evan Spiegel made it official by alerting her direct reports, according to people familiar with the matter.

Two days later, he changed his mind, rescinded the offer and hired Jeremi Gorman, who oversaw ad sales at Amazon.com Inc. The switch was jarring for Snap’s sales division, as O’Hara was well-liked, according to people familiar with the matter. Now she’s gone.

In a statement to employees Monday, O’Hara told colleagues she is leaving due to changes in team structure, people familiar with the matter said. Even if Gorman works well in the role, the incident has eroded trust in Spiegel’s decision-making as he is working to improve his leadership skills, and as Snap is depending on new managers to help boost the company’s performance.

Snap confirmed O’Hara’s departure and declined to comment on the circumstances. In an email to the business solutions team on Monday, provided by Snap, Spiegel praised her leadership.

“In her time here, Kristen had an immediate and positive impact on the company,” Spiegel wrote. “She had a deep understanding of our business from the outset and forged strong client relationships that we will continue to build upon. I will miss the leadership and enthusiasm she brought to the organization and wish her only continued success.”

In results reported last week, Snap said it saw further declines in daily users of Snapchat, the app for sending photo and video messages that disappear. The next chief business officer will have to bring new advertisers onto the platform, despite the shrinking of their potential audience.

“Jeremi joins us with proven expertise and talent that will make our platform even better for our partners, and I am excited to have her on our team,” Spiegel said in an email to employees in announcing his decision. Spiegel is able to make such decisions by himself, without needing approval from the board, because he and co-founder Bobby Murphy have majority voting control of Snap.

O’Hara had joined Snap in September after more than a decade at Time Warner Inc. In her short time as Snap’s vice president of U.S. sales, she built trust with the team by gathering input from its members, and then using that to create strategic plans for 2019 and beyond, according to people familiar with the matter. Her management style, which was open and communicative, contrasted with that of others in Snap leadership, the people said.

Since its March 2017 initial public offering, Snap has cycled through its heads of engineering, finance, product, sales, hardware and legal. O’Hara and Gorman were competing for a position that would have helped replace Imran Khan, the chief strategy officer, who is leaving to start something else. The company also cut hundreds of employees earlier this year.

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