Last week it was reported that Apple had recently hired Antonio García Martínez, author of the 2016 book Chaos Monkeys, which gives an insider’s perspective on Silicon Valley tech culture. Garcia Martínez has now been sacked, following a petition signed by over 2,000 Apple employees.
This is actually not the first tech company from which García Martínez has been ejected. From 2011 to 2013, he was director of Facebook’s Ad Exchange, but the company fired him “for a variety of reasons, he says, including insubordination”. However, the man’s latest run-in with controversy stems not from anything he did at Apple, but from what he wrote in his book five years ago.
According to the petitioners, García Martínez has a “history of publishing overtly racist and sexist remarks” which “directly oppose Apple’s commitment to Inclusion & Diversity”. They provide a number of examples — taken out of context — from Chaos Monkeys, such as the statement, “Most women in the Bay Area are soft and weak, cosseted and naive despite their claims of worldliness, and generally full of shit”.
Based on their concern that García Martínez’s presence at Apple will “contribute to an unsafe working environment”, they demanded “an investigation into how his published views on women and people of color were missed”, as well as assurance that he “and any who share his harmful views will not be involved in hiring, interviewing, or performance decisions”. Apple decided to simply fire him instead.
I can see why people wouldn’t appreciate García Martínez’s irreverent writing style, but the book — which received many positive reviews — was written in personal capacity five years ago. Organising a petition to denounce him now is just malicious. And claiming that he will “contribute to an unsafe working environment” is absurd — construction sites and oil rigs are unsafe working environments, not office-bound tech companies.
Of course, García Martínez’s detractors believe he’s just another example of the sophomoric “tech bro” culture that pervades Silicon Valley.
More interesting than the Apple employees’ collective denunciation of García Martínez is the company’s decision to fire him. (Even the petition didn’t call for his firing.) They must have known about his controversial statements, as they caused a bit of a stir when the book was published, and it was a New York Times bestseller. This suggests the company fired him to placate the mob, rather than because they had a principled objection to what he wrote.
Of course, Apple – like most large companies nowadays – has painted itself into a corner when it comes to dealing with these kinds of accusations, given its own stated promises to be more “inclusive”.
The incident is yet another indication of big tech’s willingness to censor anyone who offends the sensibilities of its young and increasingly woke workforce. Though García Martínez will probably weather the storm (he once complained about his pay at Facebook falling to “just $550,000 a year”), what it says about companies like Apple is more concerning. It’s no longer good enough to say the right things today; you now have to make sure you didn’t say the wrong things in the past. And if enough of your colleagues kick up a fuss, you’ll get hung out to dry.
Noah Carl is an independent researcher and writer. You can follow him on Twitter @NoahCarl90