The escalating cycle of backlash surrounding Dave Chappelle’s new comedy special has left one Netflix employee without a job. The company has given a pink slip to an unidentified staffer for leaking confidential financial statistics to Bloomberg, leading to an October 13 article about the diminishing returns of Netflix’s investment in Chappelle.
“We have let go of an employee for sharing confidential, commercially sensitive information outside the company,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to Vanity Fair. “We understand this employee may have been motivated by disappointment and hurt with Netflix, but maintaining a culture of trust and transparency is core to our company.” According to the spokesperson, an internal investigation revealed that a single person had viewed confidential information on four projects referenced in the piece by Bloomberg. This employee later acknowledged that they were responsible for distributing the confidential figures outside of Netflix, the spokesperson added.
In the October 13 article, Bloomberg reported that Netflix shelled out more money for Chappelle’s last two specials than it did for Squid Game, which became its biggest hit ever. The company spent $24.1 million on The Closer, which has earned controversy for Chappelle’s jokes about the LGBTQ+ community, and $23.6 million on Chappelle’s 2019 special, Sticks & Stones, which also contained comedy at the expense of trans people. Meanwhile, Bo Burnham’s hit isolation variety special Inside had a $3.9 million price tag, while Squid Game’s was $21.4 million.
While Chappelle’s 2019 special reportedly garnered a hefty payday, the “impact value” of Sticks & Stones was $19.4 million—meaning it cost more than the value Netflix calculated it generated. Per Bloomberg, the special’s “efficiency” score (a title’s reach versus its price tag) was 0.8, below the break-even metric of 1.
Terra Field, an openly trans senior software engineer at Netflix who wrote a viral Twitter thread opposing Chappelle’s special, retweeted an article about the employee’s termination, writing, “This is not me, but I am furious about it.” Field was suspended from the company alongside two other employees for attending a high-level meeting uninvited. The trio was reinstated in their respective roles, and Netflix has maintained that any social media criticism didn’t cause the suspensions.
This week, Netflix chief Ted Sarandos has continued to find himself in hot water, sharing two memos defending Chappelle in a matter of days. Sarandos has made it clear that The Closer will remain on its platform, expressing that “we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”
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