Snap Spectacles Chief Leaves Company

Mark Randall (L) and Steve Horowitz (R) were both formerly VP of Hardware at Snap. Photo Credit: JUSTIN LANE/EPA/Shutterstock
July 24, 2018
Updated 5mo ago

By Alex Heath

The head of Snapchat’s Spectacles division, Mark Randall, has left the company.

Randall, who was Snap Inc.’s vice president of hardware, told employees recently he was leaving to start his own company, according to a memo that was obtained by Cheddar and confirmed by a Snap spokesperson.

His departure is the latest in a string of executive resignations during a trying period for Snap, which has largely failed to meet Wall Street’s growth expectations since going public in early 2017. His departure is also the second leadership change in Snap’s hardware division since the company lost nearly $40 million in unsold inventory of its Spectacles camera glasses last year.

Randall’s departure is not connected to the release of the second version of Spectacles in April, according to people familiar with the matter. The hardware division, known inside the company as Snap Lab, will now be led by Senior Vice President Jerry Hunter, who oversees all of Snap’s engineering efforts. The secretive Snap Lab group, which has quietly experimented with other camera-equipped hardware like drones, underwent layoffs last year.

“When Snap Lab was first established, it made sense for our group to be completely separate from the rest of Snap’s engineering organization,” Randall wrote in the memo announcing his departure two weeks ago. “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.”

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel has said that he sees future versions of Spectacles as core to the company’s work on augmented reality (AR), the nascent technology that overlays virtual objects onto the real world through cameras and computer eyewear. A slightly updated, second version of Spectacles was released a few months ago, and Cheddar reported in March that Snap is working on a more ambitious third version with AR features and a new design.

You can read Randall’s full memo to Snap employees below:

Hi team,

When Snap Lab was first established, it made sense for our group to be completely separate from the rest of Snap’s engineering organization. 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.

Mark Randall