by Kim Niemi
We’ve been talking about social sabotage for several weeks now, offering parameters on an issue that can often seem subtle or difficult to define. This week’s spotlight features an open-and-shut case of social sabotage, for those who needed a clearer example.
The story goes like this:
Around 1:00 a.m. on May 3, then recently-hired PayPal exec Rakesh Agrawal began tweeting from New Orleans Jazz Fest, hurling insults at various coworkers and higher-ups. Later, by the light of day, he tweeted an apology to just two of those colleagues, after blaming his phone’s interface, claiming the public tweets were meant to be direct messages. By later that afternoon PayPal had tweeted saying that Agrawal was “no longer with the company.”
That certainly could be open to interpretation, but admittedly it sounds as though he was fired for the tweets. Agrawal insists he quit.
But it actually doesn’t matter. Because he looks irresponsible and unstable either way. Even if the first tweet had been, “Just quit my job at PayPal—so long, suckers!” the subsequent drunken rants, specifically directed to former colleagues, paint the picture of a man who values his professional reputation far too little, and who – upon ingesting a little alcohol – wields social media like a battering ram, with no regard for the fallout.
In the days following the incident, Agrawal’s tweets have seesawed between angry and arrogant, with a dash of desperation as he drops hints about new enterprises that will, in a nutshell, make everyone “rue the day.” But it’s hard to tell what, if anything, his new venture actually is.
And while there certainly has been some attention on him - due to the exposure that something like this happening with a company as large as PayPal can’t help but bring - it’s doubtful that any of it is going to do anything but hurt him.
If you were the company who had hired him and been the catalyst for him “quitting” PayPal, would these tweets make you psyched to start working with him? If you were another company approached by him, would you even grant an interview?
Whatever Agrawal may have had to offer PayPal, or the next place he works, he’s put a pretty substantial black mark on his name for the moment. And in Cyberspace, a moment is all it takes to ruin a reputation.
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