Business Insider came under fire Monday after the world was alerted to the sexist, misogynistic, homophobic and classist Twitter feed of its chief-technology officer Pax Dickinson. The two sides have parted ways, though there's some debate over the semantics. Dickinson was "forced to resign" on Tuesday, according to a report from New York's Stefan Becket. But Forbes' Jeff Bercovici says it was much simpler: "I’m told he was simply 'fired.'" Whatever term you'd like to use doesn't matter, because Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget confirmed Dickinson left the company in this just released statement:
A Business Insider executive has made some comments on Twitter that do not reflect our values and have no place at our company. The executive has left the company, effective immediately.
Business Insider's team is composed of more than 100 talented men and women of many backgrounds, and we highly value this diversity.
Outrage erupted Monday evening after everyone started paying attention to the horrible things Dickinson was tweeting about women, gays and poor people on the regular. A small sampling:
Valleywag's Nitasha Tiku has an event better roundup:
In The Passion Of The Christ 2, Jesus gets raped by a pack of niggers. It's his own fault for dressing like a whore though.— Pax Dickinson (@paxdickinson) July 14, 2010
feminism in tech remains the champion topic for my block list. my finger is getting tired.— Pax Dickinson (@paxdickinson) September 9, 2013
Aviators: on. Collar: popped. Smirk: engaged. A brogrammer at home in its native habitat. http://twitpic.com/5zii0g— Pax Dickinson (@paxdickinson) August 1, 2011
Before Dickinson's reported resignation, it seemed his behavior online was the ultimate test of the "my views on Twitter do not reflect those of my employer" defense. Indeed, Dickinson has this warning atop his profile: "Unprofessional opinions not endorsed by anyone respectable." And Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget condemned those opinions in a brief statement to Valleywag's Sam Biddle. "Pax was speaking for himself, not Business Insider," Blodget said. "We obviously don't condone what he said." What happened between Monday evening and Tuesday morning that prompted a forced resignation is unclear.
What likely made the whole situation worse was Dickinson's embracing his villainy and attempts to defend his speech on Twitter, saying "hey it's a free country isn't it?" and implying he was expecting people would eventually discover his offensive remarks and, predictably, be totally offended by them. Dickinson was a self-proclaimed brogrammer, and proud of it. The walking, talking, tweeting vessel of everything that's wrong with the tech industry.
It also probably didn't help Dickinson's case for continued employment when he started challenging some of his detractors to a fight. He asked popular tech writer Anil Dash to "come call me an asshole to my face tomorrow," because Dickinson thought they worked in the same building. (They used to, but Dash works somewhere else now.) What Dickinson probably didn't expect was the number of people who offered to back Dash up if a face-to-face meeting came to blows. Still, Dash says he'll meet with Dickinson and talk things over regardless:
I will still meet @paxdickinson & urge those piling on to reflect. Only difference between his sexism/racism & mine (or yours) is degree.— Anil Dash (@anildash) September 10, 2013
Whether the rest of the tech world would be so reserved in a face to face meeting, well, that's another story.