Less than a year after taking over Snaplab, Mark Randall is leaving Snap Inc, —to start his own company.
Randall, who joined Snap in 2016 to head up its Spectacles project, announced his departure in an internal memo obtained by Cheddar. It’s the latest shake-up for the Specs division, which saw layoffs last year, and for the company at large, which has struggled to impress Wall Street since going public last year.
Randall was elevated to vice president of hardware and took over Snaplab from Steve Horowitz in September 2017. A dozen people were also laid off from the division around that time, most of whom worked in marketing.
The hardware team, whose efforts up to now have mostly consisted of Spectacles, has been realigned under Snap’s Senior Vice President of Engineering, Jerry Hunter, with Sahil Sharma, vice president of hardware development, serving as acting lead.
Randall’s full memo to Snap employees published by Cheddar reads:
When Snaplab was first established, it made sense for our group to be completely separate from the rest of Snap’s engineering organisation. But from our customers’ perspective, these separations will become less and less distinct over time — as the pillars of Snapchat, Lens Studio, and Spectacles continue to converge. As a result, we’ve decided to realign the team as a distinct group under Snap’s SVP of Engineering, Jerry Hunter.
To best facilitate this transition, I also made the decision that now was the right time for me to leave Snap and focus on growing my own company. Sahil Sharma, VP Hardware Development, will serve as acting lead. The rest of our organizational structure remains the same, and Jerry, Sahil and I are all committed to making sure this is smooth and seamless for all of you.
We will be holding an All Hands tomorrow (7/10) at noon in the Grotto area of 606 (calendar invite to follow + questionnaire form), to share more and answer any questions that you may have.
“While this may feel sudden, please know we have been carefully discussing these decisions at the senior leadership level for several months. I’m confident that this is the right next step — both for me and for this team. The potential here within this group is huge and the world will be so excited over the next decade to see all of your amazing creations. 🙂
For my own next steps, I’ll be focusing on growing my own company, where I’ll be advising young, private companies, participating in early-stage investing and working on other passion projects.
It has been an absolute privilege working alongside this team. I’ve learned an incredible amount, and it has been a truly awesome experience. Please feel free to contact me anytime and I will always be more than happy to assist any of you with anything I can.” He added.
Though the surprise rollout of Spectacles exclusively in pop-up vending machines in November 2016 inspired hours-long lines for the video sunglasses, they ended up being kind of a novelty, with the company selling only 220,000 pairs. Snap ultimately was saddled with hundreds of thousands of unsold Spectacles in storage, and those who did buy a pair lost interest within a few weeks. Snap lost $40 million last year after getting stuck with stockpiles of unsold Spectacles inventory.
Randall’s departure leaves a lingering question mark over the future of Spectacles. While limited for now, Specs are a promising vehicle for Snap’s augmented reality efforts, which are blossoming slowly. Sadly, we don’t yet know how well the latest pair of Spectacles have been received.