Brand Advocate Fired Over Tweet

Brand Advocate Fired Over TweetWhat happens when you are the evangelist for a brand and you ignite an Internet controversy while representing that brand? You get fired.

Adria Richards was a brand advocate for SendGrid. She was attending a Python conference, one of many she had attended on behalf of her company, and according to her blog post, had heard more than her fair share of sexual jokes. At one point during a presentation, she decided to take action in the form of a Tweet that she knew would be seen by conference organizers.

Not cool.Jokes about forking repo’s in a sexual way and “big” dongles.Right behind me #pycon…

— Adria Richards (@adriarichards) March 17, 2013

Conference organizers did indeed see the tweet, and escorted the identified developers out of the conference. One of the pictured developers was ultimately fired from his position at PlayHaven.

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Adria maintains her own website and that’s where she shared the details of her story and this incident, but Adria’s Twitter bio specifically states that she is the “Developer Evangelist for @SendGrid.” The developer who was fired also published a story on Hacker News.

As news of this spread, Adria and SendGrid began to receive a lot of backlash. Adria was threatened for having outed these guys on Twitter, and SendGrid’s website became the target of a massive DDoS attack that’s left the site, and their email distribution service, inoperable. In the midst of the attack, SendGrid fired Adria and posted that annoucnement to Twitter.

Effective immediately, @adriarichards has been terminated from @sendgrid. For more details, please see

— SendGrid (@SendGrid) March 21, 2013

PyCon is also revising their Code of Conduct to specifically state that reports should be submitted in writing, not in public.

Dino Dogan from Triberr, tech-startup founder and SendGrid customer, suggests that “both PlayHaven and SendGrid have made the same mistake. They fired their employees, when in fact they should have stuck with them. Not only is it the right thing to do, but now they are suffering the consequences of not putting people first.”

There is no question that Adria had a right to be offended and had a right to complain. The question’s are, did she make the right choice when she decided to use Twitter, and include a picture, to communicate that complaint? And while Adria’s employment would not appear to be protected under the National Labor Relations Act, do you think SendGrid was right to fire an employee making that kind of statement online?

Image courtesy of MDGovpics, Flickr.

Comments: 4

  • jessia says:

    There seems to be a few important pieces of information missing here
    I am a customer of sendgrid and i have been following this from the start so let me help you out. because to me, she is making us who are for the cause look bad

    1)Adria attended a pycon , so did the 2 developers. They were sitting behind her and were friendly with others.

    2)they were talking and she eavesdropped on them. They were just joking amongst themselves and IN NOW WAY SHE WAS INCLUDED IN DISCUSSION.

    3)She heard , imparted a sexist meaning to their words and this is where she should have simply asked them to stop

    4)She took their pic and posted it on her twitter, PUBLICLY HUMILIATING THEM before her over9000 followers.

    5)She then complained to the company and the guy was fired from his job.

    6)The guy, with 3 kids and a wife to support, made a statement apolozising to her on hackernews

    7)She replied to him, that she made a blogpost about her “adventure”, and she really did rant in her blog further adding injury to insult.

    8)Hackers who knew full story started DDOsing her blog and sendgrid. While I dont agree with their methods, this is what happened

    9)Sendgrid which lost most of its business made a statement , firing her, expecting the attacks to stop. thats one guess the other is she is a public relations person, and her public image is tarnished so she cannot do her job properly anymore

    This person has a history of making insensitive comments on her own twitter account. She even made a sexual joke on twitter while at the convention she was attending.

    I am sorry but I cannot support her, as she is making us look bad


  • David says:

    This article is disingenuous in that it does not print what the two men actually said at the conference within earshot of Adria, the comments they made were extremely lighthearted and were not phrased in a sexual manner at all. She had quite obviously gone on a hateful bullying spree and saw to it that someone was punished for what she believed to be insulting. You cannot have someone like that in a PR position. If you look through her previous tweets, they are often racially charged and some are blatantly offensive. Claims that “black people can’t be racist” etc, show that she was a time bomb waiting to go off.

  • Jimmy Russells says:

    Could you please report the facts in a objective manner please. Your lack of any journalistic credibility is astounding.

  • Janeth says:

    I would have fired her for causing a problem, rather it be on online or offline. Somethings should be handled in private and this would have been no different then her yelling and screaming in the offline world.

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