Apple ads engineer exits after backlash over racist, sexist comments

The hiring of Garcia Martinez, a former Facebook product manager, drew fire because of offensive remarks he had made in the past.

Apple ads engineer exits after backlash over racist, sexist comments

Apple said Antonio Garcia Martinez, a former Facebook product manager who recently joined the iPhone maker, is no longer at Apple after his hiring caused an internal backlash because of past comments that drew fire for being racist or sexist.

Garcia Martinez, who was hired last month to work in product engineering on Apple’s advertising platform team, has left after just a couple of weeks on the job, the Cupertino, California-based company said Wednesday in a statement.

“At Apple, we have always strived to create an inclusive, welcoming workplace where everyone is respected and accepted,” an Apple spokesman told Bloomberg News. “Behavior that demeans or discriminates against people for who they are has no place here.”

Earlier Wednesday, several Apple employees complained about the Garcia Martinez hire both internally and on social media, citing comments he previously made and excerpts from his 2016 book, “Chaos Monkeys.” In the book, Garcia Martinez called women in Silicon Valley “soft and weak” and made a series of other assertions deemed misogynist and racist by Apple employees.

In an internal memo to Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president who oversees services such as advertising, and executives in the inclusion and diversity department, Apple employees questioned how a company that prides itself on diversity could make such a hire.

“We demand an investigation into how his published views on women and people of color were missed or ignored, along with a clear plan of action to prevent this from happening again,” the workers wrote.

The internal firestorm at Apple was a rarity for a company that has mostly sidestepped related controversies that have plagued Alphabet Inc.’s Google and other technology companies.

“We are profoundly distraught by what this hire means for Apple’s commitment to its inclusion goals, as well as its real and immediate impact on those working near Mr. Garcia Martinez,” a group of Apple employees wrote in the memo. “It calls into question parts of our system of inclusion at Apple, including hiring panels, background checks, and our process to ensure our existing culture of inclusion is strong enough to withstand individuals who don’t share our inclusive values.”

Earlier in his career, Garcia Martinez worked on ad targeting at Facebook. When he was hired at Apple, industry observers questioned the move as his advertising approach at Facebook strongly differed from the privacy-centric approach Apple says it takes with its advertising efforts.

In an interview with Vox in 2018, Garcia Martinez said, “most people don’t care about privacy. Media elites care about it, underemployed Eurocrats care about it. And the entire privacy-industrial complex -- there’s an entire set of very loud voices who are constantly beating the drum and building media careers around this.”

Apple has ad slots in the App Store, Apple News and Stocks apps, but has clamped down on the ability for third-party app developers like Facebook to target users with personalized ads.

—Bloomberg News