The XX Factor

Business Insider CTO Forced Out for Sexist, Racist Tweets and Not Understanding the Internet

Pax Dickinson

Photo via @paxdickinson/Twitter

For years, Business Insider Chief Technology Officer Pax Dickinson was just tweeting along, novelty cowboy hat perched atop his head, collar popped, aviator sunglasses engaged: “Women’s suffrage and individual freedom are incompatible. How’s that for an unpopular truth?” he tweeted. And “Men have made the world such a safe and comfortable place that women now have the time to bitch about not being considered our equals.” And “This election will be decided by single women. It’s an epic battle between ‘Jungle Fever’ and ‘Daddy Issues’.”

Also: “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.”

Yesterday, some people read these tweets, retweeted them, and wrote stories about them. “I’ve been expecting this to happen for a long time,” Dickinson tweeted as the opposition kicked into gear. “With me, they don’t just disagree. It quickly morphs into trying to threaten my job.” Today Dickinson is no longer the CTO of Business Insider.

Even Dickinson had enough self-awareness to discern that his statements were “unpopular” to a degree that could affect his employment. It’s less clear why Business Insider (with whom Slate has a content-sharing partnership) took so long to catch on. Dickinson’s tweets were no secret within the company; the website’s chief correspondent, Nicholas Carlson, admitted to blocking his feed so he didn’t have to interact with him on Twitter. “Pax was speaking for himself, not Business Insider. We obviously don’t condone what he said,” the company’s founder, editor, and CEO, Henry Blodget, told Valleywag’s Sam Biddle when the RTs began to mount. The next day, Blodget made the company’s position a little more obvious: “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,” he wrote in a statement.

It appears that the executives behind a website that reaches 23 million unique visitors a month have finally learned how the Internet works: “Pax Dickinson, CTO” is “Pax Dickinson, asshole”—there’s no dividing line between the two. Dickinson listed his Business Insider title atop his twitter feed; when he sent out calls for open positions at the company, he included his Twitter handle. (Occasionally, Dickinson’s feed even provided potential applicants with valuable information about the hiring process: “Tech managers spend as much time worrying about how to hire talented female developers as they do worrying about how to hire a unicorn,” he tweeted last year.)

Dickinson may see the Internet as a freewheeling alterna-reality where he’s liberated to air his “unpopular truths” about the ills of women’s suffrage and employment. But the Internet is also the workplace. It’s perplexing why Business Insider would employ someone as openly racist and sexist as Pax Dickinson is, but it’s positively mind-boggling that Business Insider hired a CTO who doesn’t even understand that the Internet is real life.