- Hollis Johnson
There’s been a shakeup within Snap Inc.’s secretive hardware team behind Spectacles.
The company’s former VP of Operations, Mark Randall, has taken on the newly created role of VP of Hardware, replacing Steve Horowitz, who effectively served in the position before with the title VP of Engineering.
The shakeup also includes about a dozen layoffs mostly within a marketing division that supported the hardware team, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Horowitz’s new title is VP of Technology, a Snap spokesperson told Business Insider on Thursday. He will continue to advise the Spectacles team, help shape Snap’s acquisition strategy for hardware projects, and communicate the company’s broader technology ambitions externally. Horowitz will report to Snap Chief Strategy Officer Imran Khan, while Randall will report to CEO Evan Spiegel.
Randall joined Snap last year after managing Google’s supply chain for its Motorola division between 2012 and 2014. Horowitz joined Snap in 2015 after decades of working on products like the Macintosh at companies like Apple.
Snap’s skunkworks hardware team, known internally has Snap Labs, is tasked with building physical products that work with the Snapchat app and further Snap’s goal of being a camera company. The team’s first product was last year’s Spectacles, and the division has also experimented with developing a drone.
The early beginnings of Snap Labs came through the company’s acquisition of augmented reality eyewear startup Vergence Labs in 2014. Several of the employees who joined from Vergence still work within Snap Labs.
- Snap Inc
While the surprise release of Spectacles through yellow vending machine popups last year was met with long lines initially, sales of the camera eyewear have lagged in recent quarters. The company revealed during its last earnings call that it received only $5.4 million in revenue from the $130 glasses for the quarter, down from $8.3 million the previous quarter.
Even still, Snap has shown signs that it’s continuing to develop new hardware products. It’s held talks with a number of consumer drone startups, including the now-defunct Lily Robotics, and recently held talks with Chinese drone maker Zero Zero Robotics, according to people familiar with the matter. In May, Snap hired the founder of a tiny startup called Ctrl Me Robotics that had experimented with using small drones to shoot footage for the Snapchat app.
Snap has continued to hire hardware engineers and supply chain experts over the past year from the likes of Apple and Google. Earlier this year, the Los Angeles-based company quietly moved a handful of its engineers working on Spectacles to a small outpost in Boulder, Colorado.
Bloomberg first reported the layoffs and appointment of Randall within Snap’s hardware lab on Thursday.