Microsoft Recruiter's Email Sparks Social Media Firestorm

By Pedro Hernandez  |  Posted 2016-07-08 Print this article Print
Microsoft recruitment gaffe

Microsoft's latest attempt to connect with millennials fell flat. Social media's reaction to a Microsoft recruiter's slang-filled email was swift and brutal.

Microsoft this week learned about the dangers of trying to fit in with the cool kids and letting slip official emails that don't quite match its corporate identity. The company's latest gaffe, made by a job recruiter representing Microsoft, went viral after blatantly attempting to hook millennials with slang that missed its mark.

It all began on July 5 when Patrick Burtchaell (@pburtchaell), a student at the University of New Orleans, tweeted a screenshot of an email sent to his roommate from a Microsoft University Recruiter named Kim. The email was an invitation to attend an after-party at the company's San Francisco office on the night of Internapalooza 2016.

Sponsored by a who's who of tech companies in Silicon Valley and beyond, Internapalooza is a networking event that helps college students connect with area companies. This year, it will be held on Monday, June 11 at AT&T Park. Partners include Google, Uber, eBay, Snapchat, Twitter and, of course, Microsoft.

"Hey bae intern," read the opening line, in all caps and punctuated with an exclamation mark and a heart symbol. At the mixer, the email promised "hella noms, lots of dranks," and Yammer-branded beer pong tables.

"Hell yes to getting lit on a Monday night," concluded the email, again in all caps.

Social media's reaction was swift and brutal. Users flooded Twitter with humorous reaction gifs and mocking replies that often referred to the email's cringe-inducing content. A day after the email made the rounds, Microsoft officially addressed the matter.

"The email was poorly worded and not in keeping with our values as a company," a Microsoft spokesperson told tech blog Gizmodo in an email statement. "We are looking into how this occurred and will take appropriate steps to address it."

It's not the first time Microsoft's attempts to project a hipper, more youthful image have gone awry.

In March, the software giant was forced to pull the plug on Tay, a social media chatbot with the personality of a young millennial woman with a playful streak. It took less than a day for the chatbot to get goaded into firing off offensive tweets.

"The AI chatbot Tay is a machine learning project, designed for human engagement. It is as much a social and cultural experiment as it is technical," a Microsoft spokesperson told eWEEK in an email statement at the time. "Unfortunately, within the first 24 hours of coming online, we became aware of a coordinated effort by some users to abuse Tay's commenting skills to have Tay respond in inappropriate ways."

Also in March, the company came under fire for a party it held for video game creators gathered for the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. Attendees were greeted with scantily clad female dancers, prompting criticism about the industry's attitudes toward women.

"It has come to my attention that at Xbox-hosted events at GDC this past week, we represented Xbox and Microsoft in a way that was absolutely not consistent or aligned to our values," Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft Xbox, said in a statement. "That was unequivocally wrong and will not be tolerated."


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