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Snap Is Losing Its Top Content Exec Shortly After Launching New Originals

By Evan Niu, CFA – Nov 13, 2018 at 8:53PM

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Nick Bell is calling it quits.

Just over a month ago, Snap (SNAP 7.07%) announced it was launching a slew of new original shows and docuseries called Snap Originals. The Snapchat parent is now losing the content exec that led its big push into original content, Nick Bell. Bell was also responsible for growing its important Discover platform, which is where users can see professionally produced content from content partners, a crucial pillar of Snapchat's monetization.

Bell is the latest in a growing list of executive departures. Chief Strategy Officer Imran Khan left in September, and after initially naming Kristen O'Hara as chief business officer to take over some of Khan's responsibilities, CEO Evan Spiegel reportedly changed his mind two days later, causing her to leave after being hired in August.

Snapchat logo

Image source: Snap.

Bell calls it quits

As first reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Bell sent out a memo letting Snap know that he is leaving the social media company after five years. Bell was responsible for building and maintaining the company's relationships with content partners, and Jared Grusd, Snap's new chief strategy officer, will take over Bell's responsibilities, along with other content programming and business development executives. Bell said he intends to "take some time off to recharge before deciding on my next adventure." Bell will transition out of his position between now and the end of 2018.

Bell's departure is a big loss for Snap, and comes at a time when the company is trying to stabilize its user base while still coping with the fallout of its controversial redesign that failed to resonate with users. Discover is a crucial part of the platform, and Spiegel said on the third-quarter earnings call that Snap Originals get about 10 million monthly viewers.

Plunging stock price is hurting employee retention

Like many tech companies, Snap offers generous stock-based compensation, but the retentive value of those equity grants has been severely undermined by Snap's cratering stock price. Shares are trading near all-time lows.

An incredible 40% of Snap employees are planning to leave the company, Cheddar reported last month, based on an internal survey. That was up 11 percentage points compared to a similar survey conducted in early 2018. That's an awfully high proportion of workers that are on their way out, suggesting that morale is deteriorating. (It probably doesn't help morale when Spiegel impulsively rescinds a C-suite job offer.) While Snap has suffered from a string of high-profile departures, it's especially troubling that many rank-and-file employees are also planning to leave soon.

An exodus of executives is often a red flag for investors, and Snap's brain drain continues to accelerate.

Evan Niu, CFA has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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