Verkada, a surveillance startup in Silicon Valley, uses its security cameras in its building, which the male senior sales accessed to take photos of female employees and make sexual comments about them on a Slack channel.
Last year, a sales director on the company's sales team abused their access to these cameras to take and post photos of colleagues in a Slack channel called #RawVerkadawgz where they made sexually explicit jokes about women who worked at the company, according to a report in IPVM, which Motherboard independently verified and obtained more information about.
"Face match… find me a squirt," the sales director wrote in the company Slack channel in August 2019, according to one screenshot obtained by Motherboard.
The comment was posted along with a series of photos of employees' faces captured with the office's surveillance system which were patched together using a Verkada facial recognition feature. "Face search," as it's called, can pinpoint an individual in a sea of faces. The pinpointed face, in this instance, belonged to a Verkada employee, her mouth wide open. In addition to verifying the incident with three sources who worked at Verkada at the time, Motherboard compared the format of the images posted to those included in Verkada's publicly available demo videos to verify that they were indeed captured by the company's surveillance cameras.
At least five senior sales staff are white men who went to the same high school in Danville, California, San Ramon Valley High, where they played sports (chiefly football). This contributed to a feeling among some female and minority staffers that moving up in the company was harder for people who were not white men from Danville.
"If you weren't part of the same five or six people who all grew up with each other in Danville, then you wouldn't get far", one source told IPVM, adding that "there were some exceptions of course, but the ones that got the easiest promotions were all within the same circle."
Vice said the employee "who posted the screenshot still works at Verkada."
Verkada, a $1.6 billion unicorn, is worth too much to the venture capitalists who funded it, so it's unlikely any meaningful corrective action will take place.