Sreenivasan’s unique response to losing his $328,900 job.
Tech maven Sree Sreenivasan has thrown a virtual googly at the world after the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that he would be let go at the end of this month from his $328,900 job as Chief Digital Officer, after three years of digitizing the museum’s work online and creating an smartphone app for the same.
The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, which explained that the Met was going for the drastic measure of letting go of three top leaders to cut costs. Along with Sree, the other two executives being let go are, according to Daniel Weiss, the Met’s president: Cynthia Round, the Met’s senior vice president for marketing and external relations, and Susan Sellers, its head of design.
Sreenivasan and Round will consult for the museum for six months after they step down. Loic Tallon, its deputy chief of digital, will serve as interim chief digital officer.
The resignations come two months after Met officials said the museum would embark on a financial overhaul, citing a projected $9 million to $10 million deficit that they said could balloon to as much as $40 million if no action was taken.
Weiss called Sreenivasan “a superstar” and said he decided to step down after it became clear that the Met wasn’t going to be able to reinvest in digital initiatives in the way museum officials had anticipated when he was hired, reported the Journal.
“I am so proud that everything we’ve done here—every single thing—has been in service of the art,” Sreenivasan said in an email to the Journal.
But Sreenivasan, a former teacher of journalism and Dean at Columbia University, and one of the most renowned social media experts globally, threw a virtual googly the same day a memo was floated with the Met announcing his departure.
Quartz reported Sreenivasan shared on Facebook the Met’s company-wide memo and his gratitude to his bosses and team, and he outlined some loose plans (a book, consulting, a speaking tour, and a family vacation in India). Perhaps most importantly, he said he was open to any and all meetings and included a link to a form inviting friends to offer advice about what he should do next.
“If you want to invite me to anything, I now have time, including for meaningful cups of coffee and drinks,” he wrote. “I’d also love to go walking with anyone available. I try to walk 5 miles a day, I plan to make it 8-10 miles this summer,” he wrote.
The comments on the post—hundreds of them—were effusive and congratulatory, considering the circumstances. Exclamation points and emoji abounded. High-power media types on Twitter endorsed Sreenivasan’s talents and shared the news that he was available, reported Quartz.
In the past week he has broadcasted a visit to Washington, DC, his daughter’s dance recital, and his regular weekly reading of the New York Times via Facebook Live. He did the same at the American India Foundation gala and the Indo American Arts Council awards night, both in Manhattan. Sreenivasan in fact, won a bid to a nice golf trip to California, with a winning bid of $10,000 at the AIF gala.
Sreenivasan, a founder of the South Asian Journalists Association, prolifically tweets to his 76,800 followers. He offers what he calls his “SreeTips” to journalists on using social media via Facebook, Tumblr, and a podcast.
“You need an incredible support group, and people who understand.” said Sreenivasan. “You have to build it when you don’t need it.”
“Join LinkedIn today, when you don’t need a job,” said Sreenivasan. “Desperation does not work on LinkedIn.”
He added: “Everything I’ve gotten has come from being completely open and sharing everything I know. So then I said, ‘Let me be open and free. See what happens. Let the universe help.’
“The most precious thing I have is my job—the security around it,” said Sreenivasan, who is a father of teenage twins. “What that says about you as a man.”
Sreenivasan displays no false optimism about the road ahead. “I felt like I’ve been at my own funeral,” he said of his last days on the job. “Everyone’s saying nice things, but there’s only so much they can do for the guy in the box.”
Sreenivasan said in another Facebook post that the responses to his FB note, like a “giant digital hug.”
“It just tells you how nice people are, and how much they want to help you,” he said. “Don’t worry about trolls. Amplify your fans.”