Patreon Cuts Its Security Team

The creator loyalty platform says it enacted the layoffs as "part of strategic shift."

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The popular subscription platform has axed 5 security engineer employees.
The popular subscription platform has axed 5 security engineer employees.
Image: Vitalii Vodolazskyi (Shutterstock)

Patreon, the online platform that allows content creators to foster a direct subscriber base, has laid off five employees responsible for its security engineering. The company confirmed the worker cuts in an email to Gizmodo on Friday.

“As part of a strategic shift of a portion of our security program, we have parted ways with five employees,” said Patreon in an emailed statement attributed to the company’s U.S. policy head, Ellen Satterwhite.

Patreon is popular among creators like podcasters, writers, and artists and their fans. Site users or “patrons” can sign up for one time and recurring payments to makers that allow them to support their favorites in exchange for exclusive content or other rewards.

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Emily Metcalfe, formerly a security and privacy engineer at Patreon, and one of the laid-off workers described the cut as affecting the entire internal security group. “I and the rest of the Patreon Security Team are no longer with the company,” she wrote in a LinkedIn post announcing that she is now looking for a new job.

Although Patreon disputed that description. The subscription platform wrote that “a majority of our engineers working on security and vendors remain in place.” In response to further questions, Satterwhite also said “the entire internal Patreon security team was not laid off. As a matter of policy, we can’t share the exact number of Patreon employees working on security, but can confirm a majority of Patreon’s internal engineers working on security remain in place.”

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Patreon also declined to answer questions about why they let go of multiple security engineers. Satterwhite noted that “we also partner with a number of external organizations to continuously develop our security capabilities and conduct regular security assessments.” The reference to “external organizations” seemingly suggests that the company has outsourced much of its security operations.

“As a global platform, we will always prioritize the security of our creators’ and customers’ data,” wrote Satterwhite. “The changes made this week will have no impact on our ability to continue providing a secure and safe platform for our creators and patrons.”

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Patreon has previously faced at least one major security breach. In 2015, hackers accessed and dumped 13.7 gigabytes of the company’s data (including creator and user data, source code, and login information).

The platform began 2022 with about 400 employees, but told TechCrunch in December 2021 that it was hoping to double in size within a year—specifically focusing on its product, engineering, and design sectors. It’s unclear how the security layoffs fit into that expansion strategy.

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That said, 2022 has been a difficult year for lots of tech companies so far. Layoffs abound at smaller startups, well-established brands, and even at Silicon Valley giants. Thousands of jobs have been slashed so far, following years of rapid, unfettered growth.