The big topic of discussion today is the fallout from the PyCon conference. At the conference, former Adria Richards, who, at the time, worked in developer relations for SendGrid, heard two conference attendees behind her making jokes about “forking” and “dongles” in the sort of juvenile way that often happens in the tech industry.
Richards took a photo of the jokers and tweeted it: “Not cool. Jokes about forking repo’s in a sexual way and “big” dongles. Right behind me
The results of this act were both serious and unexpected.
1) One of the developers pictured was fired by his company, PlayHaven. He went on to explain his side of the story on Hacker News. You can read Richards’ side of the story on her blog. (UPDATE: In an interview PlayHaven’s CEO implied that the firing was for multiple reasons. This could be true; for legal reasons, you’d certainly want to avoid commenting on the reasons for an employee’s termination. Sadly, even that article includes commenters calling for a DDoS attack on PlayHaven.)
2) Richards’ then-employer, SendGrid, was heavily criticized for employing Richards, and came under a DDOS attack. Note that PlayHaven was not attacked (more on this later).
3) SendGrid fired Richards, explaining its rationale in a Facebook post that has since been removed by the company, followed by a blog post that is still accessible:
A SendGrid developer evangelist’s responsibility is to
build and strengthen our Developer Community across the globe. In light
of the events over the last 48+ hours, it has become obvious that her
actions have strongly divided the same community she was supposed to
unite. As a result, she can no longer be effective in her role at
SendGrid.In the end, the consequences that resulted
from how she reported the conduct put our business in danger. Our
commitment to our 130 employees, their families, our community members
and our more than 130,000 valued customers is our primary concern.
First of all I’d like to say
I’m sorry. I really did not mean to offend anyone and I really do
regret the comment and how it made Adria feel. She had every right to
report me to staff, and I defend her position.
It sucks that two companies overreacted, and two people lost their jobs. But change doesn’t proceed smoothly and fairly. Change usually involves disruption and pain.