One of Snap CEO Evan Spiegel\u2019s top lieutenants Tom Conrad will leave Snapchat, and the whole tech industry, in March. Coming roughly two years after he joined the company as VP of Product, a source tipped off TechCrunch to Conrad\u2019s impending departure, which Snap now confirms to us. Snap\u2019s director of growth Jacob Andreou who reported to Conrad will step into his role at an executive level, though no official new title has been assigned to him.\r\n\u201cI started making software when I was 18 years old, and it\u2019s hard to believe I\u2019ve been doing this for 30 years. It\u2019s time for me to put my energy outside of tech, into music, food, photography and things closer to art than entrepreneurship\u201d Conrad tells TechCrunch. \u201cIt\u2019s easy to put these things off forever but I didn\u2019t want to wake up 10 years from now and not have explored these other passions of mine.\u201d\r\nIt\u2019s refreshing to see a tech exec who\u2019s surely made a fortune invest in his own happiness rather than endlessly surrendering to the grind\u00a0of startups. There\u2019s more to life than stacking millions.\r\nA Pivotal Moment For Snapchat\u2019s Product\r\nUnfortunately, the change could introduce instability at a critical time for Snapchat\u2019s product, as it\u2019s in the middle of rolling out a massive redesign to its app. Snap needs all the product prowess it can get right now to convince users to weather the overhauled interface that was bashed as confusing by users with early access. 83% of the first wave of user reviews of the new app gave it one or two stars, according to data provided to TechCrunch by Sensor Tower.\r\n\r\nThough about 20 years older than Snap\u2019s founders, Conrad had proven himself as the CTO of Pandora, building a widely loved and easy-to-use music app. But as Spotify turned algorithmic radio into just a feature of on-demand streaming, Conrad bailed out of Pandora in 2014. He joined Snap\u2019s Venice office as VP of Product in March 2016 according to his LinkedIn. The March 2018 departure date is likely related to Conrad\u2019s vesting schedule that earns him another lump of stock after completing two years with the company.\r\nAt Snap, the product design team led by Spiegel rules the company, and he trusted Conrad as one of the few executives given the leeway to push changes Spiegel didn\u2019t agree with, according to Casey Newton at The Verge. \u201cHe keeps a pulse on the spokes, and is a shadow for Evan. He extends Evan\u2019s view when Evan\u2019s not in the room\u201d a source told Newton.\r\nWhile some execs have reportedly butted heads with Spiegel, him and Conrad had a smoother relationship. \u201cGetting to collaborate with Evan has been one of the highlights of my career\u201d Conrad told TechCrunch. His\u00a0departure could make Spiegel even more of a bottleneck for design decisions at a time when Snapchat\u2019s trying to evolve amidst stern competition from fast-moving Facebook subsidiary Instagram.\r\n\r\n\r\nIt All Comes Down To Evan\r\nSnap has endured a brutal few months. The share price hovers around $14.50, about half its peak after a disappointing Q3 where it lost $443 million, revenue fell short, and user growth slowed to a crawl. Talent is trickling out, like TimeHop\u2019s Jonathan Wegener, SVP of engineering Tim Sehn, early employee Chloe Drimal, and VP of HR and Legal Robyn Thomas have all left since July. It also laid off two dozen content curation staffers.\r\nMeanwhile, plans for new products like the redesign and Stories outside the app leaked. So did an extensive set of usage data for all its features showing that growth of Story sharing is flat. That was followed by an aggressive letter to employees threatening termination or legal action for leaking to the press\u2026which immediately leaked to the press. It all paints of picture of low morale and dissatisfaction, leading to confidential info pouring out of the purposefully secretive company.\r\n\r\nUnfortunately the weak momentum and sagging share price could make it tough to recruit a top talented to replace Conrad officially or fill Andreou\u2019s role. That same situation could stunt Snap\u2019s ability to make star acquisitions, which it\u2019s used to fuel some of its top features like Bitmoji and augmented reality selfie lenses.\r\nSpiegel may need to pull another rabbit out of his hat and wow the world with a third hit product to follow up ephemeral messaging and 24-hour Stories. But even then, Instagram will probably just copy that without hesitation. Snap may have to turn to something less copyable, like either a stylish AR eyewear device, or must-see original video that\u2019s better than its current crop of TV show rehashes. Otherwise, Snap and the world may need to accept a more modest vision of what the company will become.