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Snap’s VP of Marketing Steve LaBella Leaving as Company Looks to Tweak Messaging

Snap’s vice president of marketing and brand identity Steve LaBella is leaving, the company confirmed Friday. A Snap spokesperson told Variety that LaBella is resigning for personal reasons, adding in a statement:

“Steve has been a valuable member of our team, building our consumer marketing department and continually finding new ways to surprise and inspire the Snapchat community. We are grateful for all of his hard work and many contributions and wish him the very best.”

News of the departure, which was first reported by Cheddar Friday morning, comes just one day after CEO Evan Spiegel demanded better marketing and communications in a company-wide memo.

LaBella will stay on until the end of November; there is no word yet on a potential replacement. He had joined Snap in spring of 2016. Before that, LaBella worked for about a decade for Mattel and Fisher Price, most recently as SVP of global marketing for the toy maker.

His departure comes at the end of a challenging year for the company, which struggled after a botched redesign roll-out earlier this year. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel acknowledged some of those struggles in a memo sent to employees this week, which was first published by Cheddar Thursday.

We rushed our redesign, solving one problem but creating many others,” Spiegel wrote in the memo. He admitted that the company underestimated the frustration the new design would cause with users, and said that it lost its way by focusing on the wrong things. “The biggest mistake we made with our redesign was compromising our core product value of being the fastest way to communicate.”

Going forward, Spiegel argued, the company would have to once again establish itself as something that is first and foremost a communications tool. This would not only help retain existing users and get them to use the product more, but actually also help to win over new users.

“Many older users today see Snapchat as frivolous or a waste of time because they think Snapchat is social media rather than a faster way to communicate,” Spiegel wrote. “Changing the design language of our product and improving our marketing and communications around Snapchat will help users understand our value.”

In the past, Spiegel had argued that the app was too complicated for new users, with an unclear value proposition. In this new memo, Spiegel seemed to argue that the solution to this problem is not an evolution of Snapchat, but a return to its roots and its core purpose of communication between close-knit groups of friends. In fact, the memo uses the word “communicate” over 40 times.

The notion that a solution to Snapchat’s woes has been part of the product since its very beginning is also a clear challenge to the company’s messaging, with LaBella being one of the key people to blame. In Spiegel’s words: “It is imperative that we deliver our core product value and do a better job differentiating Snapchat by communicating that value to new users.”

The memo, as well as LaBella’s departure, seemed to instill little confidence in Snap investors. After briefly sending the company’s share price to a record low of $7.62 following Thursday’s publication of the memo, the stock continued to trade in negative territory Friday, down 1.7% from the day’s opening price.

Update: 1:05pm: This post was updated with a statement from Snap.

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