Exxon exodus turns a floating “cube” into an internet meme



HOUSTON, Oct. 4 (Reuters) – The Exxon Mobil U.S. Campus Trophy is becoming an internet meme.

The visually stunning complex, sometimes compared to Apple’s ring and Alphabet’s Googleplex campuses, opened in 2014, as Exxon stood atop the global oil market. Its centerpiece is a giant cube that appears to float above the desk and the research center.

The cube has become the emblem of a heart-wrenching exodus of staff and Exxon’s financial downfall. Hundreds of employees leaving this year posted images of themselves standing in front of them on their last day of work on social media, and versions have spread to Exxon facilities around the world.

A historic loss of $ 22.4 billion last year resulted in the departure of thousands of employees. The cost cuts will cut 14,000 jobs by the end of the year, and the review of this year’s jobs has led to voluntary and forced departures – accompanied by the cube’s social media posts. Read more

“You should scour social media and find all the people who are excited to join ExxonMobil,” Exxon spokesman Casey Norton told Reuters. The restructuring cuts ended last December and all positions opened this year due to performance-related layoffs could be renewed, he said.

Auld Lang Syne

“This photo will always remind me of the positive experiences I have had,” said Jason Crawford, former financial supervisor at Exxon, who posted his three weeks ago. He resigned after concluding that senior management was ill-prepared for the challenges ahead and that “Exxon’s days as a world leader are long behind them.”

The cube was designed to showcase Exxon’s engineering and technological prowess. A feat of engineering, it towers over the 385-acre campus, floating above an open courtyard and reflective pools.

Officially called the Exxon Energy Center, it opened in 2014 at a time when the company was at the top of the global oil and gas market. Oil was selling for $ 100 a barrel and Exxon’s market value, now around $ 258 billion, was approaching half a trillion dollars.

The building first provided a symbol of Exxon’s high-tech ambitions for itself and an appeal to talented engineers who then flocked to high-tech companies. The campus has walking trails that cross the region, restaurants, a gym with coaches, and physical science labs.


One of those drawn to the complex was Avery Smith, who posted her photo in front of the cube earlier this year. The 26-year-old data scientist worked at Exxon Mobil Research & Engineering and left last January to launch Snow Data Science.

Exxon’s “rigid culture” limited the projects he wanted to pursue, and his pandemic restrictions on working from home weighed on him. “I was a bit stuck in my position and wanted to do bigger projects,” said Smith, choosing to start his own business.

The cube best represents the business, said Smith and others who have released their cube portraits.

“I have been challenged to work with people all over the world,” wrote engineer Margaret Webb, with assignments “addressing some of the biggest issues in the world today”.

Although she left Exxon in February “before this trend became popular,” Webb recently felt compelled to add her own after seeing hundreds of colleagues materialize.

“The most important thing I take away is this: Something needs to be done about how engineers view the ethical, social and environmental impacts of their daily work,” she wrote.


Cubic references are now saying goodbye far from Texas. An Exxon scientist in Calgary, Alta. Built a Legos Cube replica for his farewell image. A financial supervisor in Buenos Aires, Argentina was inspired by a photo from a previous visit for him.

“I don’t have the usual image of the energy cube,” lamented Krishnan Kumaran, 55, who took early retirement last month after 18 years in the company. His farewell included “a photo of the building (Exxon) located in Pastoral Clinton, New Jersey” where he worked as a computer scientist.

Reporting by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Dan Grebler

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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