Jason Calacanis: Classic Dumb Resignation Story

Last Updated Apr 28, 2010 11:52 AM EDT

We've all done it or had it done to us: a gutless termination, an untimely resignation, or, in the case of Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis, a seemingly bizarre and classless response to an employee moving on.

Check out this edited email exchange between now-former Mahalo engineer Evan Culver and the famously expressive Calacanis (from TechCrunch):

From: Evan Culver
Date: Tue, 20 Apr 2010 9:48 PM
To: Jason Calacanis; Jacob Burch; Jeff Ammons
Subject: Resignation

Hey guys,

This isn't an easy email to write, but as the subject suggests, this email is to inform you of my resignation from Mahalo effective in 2 weeks. An amazing opportunity came out of nowhere that I just couldn't say no to. I'll be writing code as a UI [user interface] engineer at [Yahoo] and contributing to the open-source project on a full-time basis.

I've never worked with such a great team and learned so much in such a short period of time. I owe all of it to the opportunity you've given me, Jason and I thank you immensely for that. Jeff and Jacob, you guys are amazingly brave for tackling such a great undertaking ...

I certainly won't be going far (), so I hope to continue a lasting relationship and hope that we all can work together sometime in the future.

Thanks again,

To which Calacanis replied:
On Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 10:19 PM

Evan,

Don't come back to the office, do not email the team list.

Elliot will send you paperwork tomorrow. Today was your last day.

Good luck being employee 4,367 at a dying company.

Horribly disappointed in you.

J

Evan then responded with, "Really? What is your deal? I will ultimately *have* to come back to Mahalo to pick up my things. Why so rash, what is your rationale? This seems really unprofessional --"

Calacanis then unceremoniously removed Evan's email account. End of story.

While there's almost certainly more to the story, I can think of a host of takeaways that employees and managers can learn from this.

Employees: Don't resign by email. Get some guts, have a little empathy, and do it in person or, worst case, by phone. And whatever you do, don't do it the way former Yahoo SVP Joanne Bradford did it. Yahoo EVP Hilary Schneider and CEO Carol Bartz learned that Bradford was moving on when they read about it on the Internet.

Managers: No matter how POd you are, a simple handshake and "no hard feelings, best of luck, stay in touch" is always the way to go. Otherwise, you run the risk of appearing petty, juvenile, vindictive, unprofessional, classless, and, well, there are loads of ways to describe how Calacanis behaved, none of them good for morale.

And if you're concerned that having a lame-duck employee around for two weeks will contaminate others, then at least handle it professionally. Sit the guy down, tell him about your concern, then do the handshake - best of luck thing, give him the day to collect his stuff and say his goodbyes, and pay him for the two weeks.

Now, I've got at least half a dozen more stories like these, but I'm sure your fellow readers would much rather hear yours, especially the really juicy ones. Come on, this is your chance to get it off your chest.

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