Google parts with Cloud VP after uproar over his manifesto renouncing his antisemitism


Google Cloud headquarters sits in Sunnyvale, California.

Google Cloud

Google has parted ways with its VP of developer relations for Google Cloud, according to an internal email that employees said followed a contentious all-hands meeting about antisemitism.

“I wanted to share that today is Amr Awadallah’s last day at Google,” Eyal Manor, Google Cloud vice president of engineering and product, wrote in the email to staff Thursday evening and viewed by CNBC. “Effective immediately, the Cloud DevRel organization will report into Ben Jackson, who will report into Pali Bhat.”

Manor’s email went on to praise the team for helping Cloud’s “massive growth” while thanking them for reaching out about cultural issues. “I know it has been particularly challenging with a number of organizational changes and leadership transitions while we’ve all been navigating a global pandemic and don’t have the benefit of connecting in person together like we used to.”

Awadallah, who was vice president of Developer Relations and joined the company in 2019, wrote a 10,000-word manifesto on LinkedIn in June about his previous antisemitism. It was titled “We Are One.”

“I hated the Jewish people, all the Jewish people”! and emphasis here is on the past tense,” his manifesto began. “Yes, I was anti-Semitic, even though I am a Semite, as this term broadly refers to the peoples who speak Semitic languages, such as Arabic and Hebrew, among others.”

In interviews with CNBC, several employees described a contentious staff meeting on Wednesday, which touched on the manifesto. CNBC also viewed internal documentation of complaints. The meeting replay was sent to more than 100 employees from the team Thursday, employees said.

“Thank you to those of you who reached out,” Manor said in the departure announcement email. “It shows how much you care about this organization and building a maintaining a supportive culture.”

Google declined to comment. Awadallah did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment sent via direct message to his Facebook account.

Amr Awadallah at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on July 12, 2017 in Hong Kong.

S3studio | Getty Images

Awadallah, an Egyptian American who is well-known in the cloud industry, also posted his manifesto on YouTube and Twitter in attempts to decry antisemitism by recounting how he became enlightened after he “hated all Jews.” In an awkward attempt to decry hate amid the Israel-Palestinian conflict, he listed all the Jews he knew who he said were good people. Employees said his public admission, which omitted major historic Jewish events, made it difficult for public-facing developer advocates who are tasked with being the face and bridge for Google developers internally and externally. 

Within the manifesto, Awadallah describes how he was “cautious” of VMware co-founder Mendel Rosenblum based on his last name but that he learned to appreciate him after getting to know him and his spouse, VNware co-founder and former Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene, who both invested in Awadallah’s company Cloudera.

The contention and departure one month after the manifesto come as Google faces questions about how it handles diversity among its leaders and a perceived double standard by rank-and-file employees. Employees said they often faced reprimand for far less offensive social media posts.

Employees who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said the frustration with Awadallah’s leadership style had been building for months, leading up to this week’s all-hands meeting, where employees confronted him about their discomfort with his manifesto, working with him and the leadership attrition of his reporting leaders. The meeting, employees said, required mediation from a human resources employee who had to step in several times.

“On one hand, I’m grateful that you not longer hate my children,” a Google director of Network Infrastructure and Tech Site lead said in a LinkedIn comment. “On the other, this has made my job as one of your colleagues much harder. The previous situation has made being a Jewish leader at Google tough. This has made it almost untenable.”

While Awadallah in his manifesto acknowledged his prior prejudice in apparent pursuit of “peace,” he used anecdotes and personal stories to try to make a point about why his current assertions are correct. One way he does this is by sharing his 23andMe results, which showed he was 0.1% Ashkenazi Jewish, which he typed in boldface as a reason for why he’s technically Jewish, too. Employees said Awadallah had previously used his 23andMe results to justify his opinions.

Google Cloud Developer Relations VP Amr Awadallah tweeted at Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey because the site determined his post was considered hate speech.

“I admire many Jewish people as I shared earlier, but I will also tell you this with unwavering conviction: The Jewish people aren’t any more special than the Christian, Black, Hispanic, White, Muslim, Asian, Arab peoples or any other group of people for that matter,” his manifesto read.

When employees expressed their discomfort at the all-hands meeting Wednesday, the executive doubled down on his manifesto and insisted employees misunderstood, they said.

A Google Cloud VP tweeted a “confession” about antisemitism.

This article was originally published on CNBC