COVID-19 Venture

Layoffs Amid The COVID-19 Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has caused layoffs industrywide, and even the most high-flying startups are feeling the effects of the virus. Layoffs have happened at companies like Bird, ZipRecruiter and ClassPass. This list includes startups that had layoffs reported this past week.

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HQ: Boston

Cuts: 50 percent of staff though layoffs and furloughs

Details: The layoffs at Toast follow a giant $400 million fundraising round in February. The company’s revenue grew 109 percent in 2019 and Toast went on a hiring spree to prepare for more growth in 2020, according to a blog post by CEO Chris Comparato. 

“As restaurant revenue plummeted in March, we took every step we could to protect the health of our company,” Comparato wrote. “We froze hiring, pulled back offers, and halted merit increases. As a leadership team, we will reduce our pay across the board. But with limited visibility into how quickly the industry may recover, and facing slower than anticipated growth, we now find ourselves in the unenviable position of reducing our headcount.”


HQ: New York

Cuts: Furloughs for half the team, layoffs for another 10 percent

Details: The travel industry has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. With travel restrictions and shelter-in-place orders, consumers haven’t had the urge to buy luggage. Luggage retailer Away has seen sales of its products drop by 90 percent in the past few weeks, according to a blog post by the company’s co-founders. While Away closed its 10 retail stores early, froze hiring, suspended the co-founders salaries and reduced leadership’s pay, among other actions, it wasn’t enough to prevent layoffs.

“Over the last few weeks, however, it became apparent that there was no way to maintain the size of our team and stay solvent through this crisis,” the post read. “A month ago, we were making a healthy profit margin on every order. Today, the company’s salary costs alone exceed our revenue many times over. What once seemed like a healthy cash balance is no longer enough to keep the lights on without dramatic action.”


HQ: Boston

Cuts: More than 400 of the company’s 900 employees, according to Axios.

Details: There is not enough sugar on the planet to sugarcoat this: we’re a company that feeds meetings, and meetings are not happening much right now. We were crushing our 2020 plan, until coronavirus hit,” ezCater said in a statement to Axios. “Now, we have to scale back until the world returns. We painstakingly identified the roles we need to be successful today and tomorrow, and are parting ways with over 400 employees across all four ezCater offices.”


HQ: Foster City, California

Cuts: 120 contract workers, according to The Verge.

Details: Self-driving car startup Zoox said in a statement to The Verge that California’s shelter-in-place order presented challenges and the company had to lay off contractors who weren’t able to work remotely. “This decision was not made lightly, and is an unfortunate reflection of the difficult situation faced by many organizations in an uncertain economic climate,” the company told The Verge.

This week was brutal, and showed even the most well-capitalized of startups aren’t safe. We’ll keep updating this list as we hear of more.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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