An ex-employee’s lawsuit against Snapchat reads like a dramatic romance novel

Harlequin books are pictured at a store in Ottawa May 2, 2014. Canadian newspaper publisher Torstar Corp said it would sell romance novel business Harlequin…
Harlequin books are pictured at a store in Ottawa May 2, 2014. Canadian newspaper publisher Torstar Corp said it would sell romance novel business Harlequin…
Image: REUTERS/Chris Wattie
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A military hero, a spurned suitor, a tale of revenge and betrayal.

No, it’s not the latest Fabio-covered paperback. It’s a lawsuit filed against Snapchat in Los Angeles earlier this week.

The lawsuit alleges that Snapchat fired a former employee, Anthony Pompliano, after just three weeks of work because he refused to participate in Snapchat’s “institutional pandemic” of faking its growth numbers.

These claims haven’t been proven in court (a company spokesperson has stated that they’re false). But if nothing else, the text that alleges them is a fun read, though many details have been redacted at this time.

For starters, it points out that our leading man Pompliano is not an average Silicon Valley geek savant. He is, as the lawsuit puts it, “a decorated war veteran” who has received “numerous awards and medals for his service.” (His LinkedIn page shows he was a sergeant in the US Army.)

Need more? Pompliano, who is holding a very cute labrador retriever in his Twitter profile photo, also co-founded a company that “empowered public school districts to combat funding cuts” and helped create AMBER Alerts and Voter Registration initiatives at Facebook.

Pompliano’s brief and tumultuous affair with Snapchat, the lawsuit explains, began when Snapchat resolved to recruit Pompliano away from Facebook, which is described as “a spurned suitor turned keen competitor.” (Facebook attempted to purchase Snapchat for $3 billion in 2013, and has since made it a habit of copycatting the object of its affection.)

Here is how the lawsuit tells the story from there:

“Driven by its fierce rivalry with Facebook,” Snapchat wooed Pompliano through two months of phone calls, presenting impressive metrics and making promises to build a growth team around him that Pompliano would later claim were fraudulent. Finally, Pompliano agreed to fly to Los Angeles from his home in the San Francisco bay area to meet Snapchat in person. The company knew immediately it wanted him. “The very next day” after the visit, it contacted him to explain that “CEO Evan Spiegel wanted him to fly back down to Los Angeles the next day to meet with him.” He did.

When Snapchat offered him the job a couple of days later, the company once again told Pompliano that it needed him immediately, requesting that he quit Facebook on a Friday, move to a new city over the weekend, and start on a Monday. Not ready to instantly pick up his life and move across the state for a new company, he agreed to start work in two weeks.

Snapchat’s compensation package was ”massive and unprecedented.”

Pampliano arrived at his new employer with high hopes, but ”at the outset of his remarkably short, three-week tenure at Snapchat” he realized that he’d been deceived. He had been hired not to build a new growth team, as promised, but for the “nefarious purpose” of learning the secrets of his former employer. During their long courtship, Snapchat had appeared to be serious about Pampliano’s area of expertise, but “behind the curtain was a very different company.”

Here, the court added some suspense to the document by redacting more than seven pages of what can only be the juicy details about Pampliano and Snapchat’s relationship.

The story picks up again at Pampliano’s reaction to Snapchat’s alleged misrepresentation of its growth metrics.

Pampliano alerted his superiors about the allegedly false growth metrics, but this only “drew the ire” of Snapchat’s executives.

“Simply terminating Mr. Pompliano wasn’t enough for Snapchat” because Pampliano had become an “impediment to their planned IPO.”

Snapchat also spread word that Pompliano was incompetent.

Soon, another social media company began to show interest in Pompliano. Their talks had “advanced considerably,” and they were far past the anxious texting phase—the company’s executives would “promptly respond” to all of his inquiries. But once the new suitor talked to Snapchat, the other social media company “abruptly cut off all communications” with Pompliano, leading him to seek reparations by suing his ex-company.

We won’t know how that piece of revenge works out until the court date.