Work

Patreon cuts cyber security jobs and 80 other positions

While the company will keep part of the team in place, the cuts to security have people talking.
article cover

Inna Dodor/Getty Images

· 3 min read

Top insights for IT pros

From cybersecurity and big data to software development and gaming, IT Brew delivers the latest news and analysis of trends shaping the IT industry, like only The Brew can.

Feeling insecure. Creator platform Patreon laid off 80 people on September 13, days after making headlines for cutting five members of its security team.

The security team cuts were unrelated to broader layoffs, CEO Jack Conte wrote in a blog post. Rather, the layoffs were “part of a longer-term strategy to continue distributing security responsibilities across our entire engineering team, bring new areas of expertise into Patreon internally, and continue partnering with external experts.” Conte added that the company plans to increase its investment in cybersecurity and that the cuts wouldn’t have a negative effect on user safety and privacy.

While the company has stressed that the members laid off do not comprise a majority of the security team, the cuts are raising eyebrows among creators and donors alike who are wondering about Patreon’s commitment to user privacy and safety.

Platformer’s Casey Newton tweeted, “Getting rid of your whole security team, and saying it won’t affect the security of your products, is the meanest thing you can say about your security team.”

Rumor has it. Patreon SVP of engineering Utkarsh Srivastava claimed in internal Discord discussions obtained by PCMag that the security cuts were unrelated to any failures on the part of the team. “This action was not the result of a breach or incident, external or internal,” Srivastava said.

Rumors flew on social media after the security team layoffs were announced that the dismissal was related to allegations that Patreon hosts explicit images of minors on the platform. The company has vehemently denied the viral accusations, saying the “claims are unequivocally false.”

“Patreon has zero tolerance for the sexualization of children or teenagers and will remove any user and all associated content found to be in violation of this policy,” the company’s US policy head Ellen Satterwhite told Motherboard.

And the rest. During the broader layoffs, which saw 80 people lose their jobs across Patreon, staff were told of the impending cuts in a company-wide memo that informed employees of a calendar invitation in ten minutes that would signal their firing.

Patreon has framed its layoffs as a reorientation of business goals. As MarketWatch noted, the company has tripled its value since September 2020. Conte told employees that consolidation was the new path forward—coming just months after an ambitious growth plan.

“As the world began recovering from the pandemic and enduring a broader economic slowdown, that plan is no longer the right path forward for Patreon,” Conte wrote. “I take full responsibility for choosing that original path forward, and for the changes today, which will be very difficult for our team.”—EH

Do you work in IT or have information about your IT department you want to share? Email [email protected] or DM @EoinHiggins_ on Twitter

Top insights for IT pros

From cybersecurity and big data to software development and gaming, IT Brew delivers the latest news and analysis of trends shaping the IT industry, like only The Brew can.