On Wednesday, Cambridge Analytica employees learned that its parent company, the SCL Group, was shuttering its US offices, with American-based workers directed to return their keycards immediately, according to documentation reviewed by Gizmodo.
The news was announced during a conference call led by Julian Wheatland, the current chairman of the SCL Group who was reportedly tapped to take over as Cambridge Analytica’s next CEO. The fate of the entire company remains unclear.
During the call, Wheatland said that the board determined that rebranding the company’s current offerings in the current environment is “futile.”
Cambridge Analytica and SCL have offices in London, New York City, Arlington, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. The conference call was originally scheduled for Tuesday morning, but was repeatedly pushed back until early Wednesday afternoon, ultimately getting rescheduled more than half a dozen times.
Screenshots from the company’s internal chat service obtained by Gizmodo show a darkly comic mood in anticipation of the call. One employee shared bleakly titled Spotify playlists in Slack featuring songs like “High and Dry” by Radiohead, “The End” by The Doors, and “Help!” by The Beatles. Another employee posted a still from Titanic showing the ship’s band playing their instruments as the vessel sinks.
In explaining the decision to close the offices, Wheatland cited the ongoing investigations into Cambridge Analytica’s massive data harvesting scandal, damage to the company’s reputation, and loss of clients. In March, Britain’s information commissioner announced that she was seeking a warrant to investigate any misconduct by the data analytics firm, looking to search both its offices and its servers. UK authorities raided the London office later that month, but have yet to release their findings. Meanwhile, embattled former CEO Alexander Nix refused to testify before the British Parliamentary media committee regarding the firm’s misuse of Facebook user data.
We have reached out to Cambridge Analytica for more information and will update this story if we hear back.
The story is developing and we will update it as more information is available.
If you are a current or former Cambridge Analytica employee with information about the layoffs or the company’s internal affairs, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.