Spotify cutting hundreds of jobs in latest round of tech layoffs


Music streaming service Spotify announced Monday that it is slashing hundreds of jobs in the latest round of layoffs in the tech sector.

Spotify said it would cut 6 percent of its staff, or about 600 workers, based on its last earnings report.

“Like many other leaders, I hoped to sustain the strong tailwinds from the pandemic and believed that our broad global business and lower risk to the impact of a slowdown in ads would insulate us. In hindsight, I was too ambitious in investing ahead of our revenue growth,” CEO Daniel Ek wrote in a statement

Ek announced the job cuts along with a handful of other changes to the business, including how its products and business teams are organized.

Spotify’s head of content and advertising Dawn Ostroff is also stepping away from the company and will take on a senior adviser position to help with the changes.

“In almost all respects, we accomplished what we set out to do in 2022 and our overall business continues to perform nicely. But 2023 marks a new chapter. It’s my belief that because of these tough decisions, we will be better positioned for the future,” Ek said.

Ek said one-on-one conversations will take place with all employees affected by the job cuts, and employees are set to receive an average of five months of severance pay.

Spotify becomes the latest company to ax staff in a surge of recent job cuts in the tech sector.

Google announced last week that it would lay off 6 percent of its staff, or 12,000 workers, and Microsoft said it plans to lay off 5 percent of its staff, or 10,000 employees.

In the blink of an eye, the media and tech jobs market has gone from hot to not. HR managers have gone from figuring out ways to lure employees to mass firings amid a general pull-back of ads tied to the declining economic outlook.

"The common wisdom is when the economic outlook turns bad, the very first thing to go is marketing and advertising," Andy Challenger, SVP at outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, told Insider. 

In all, 3,774 media jobs were lost in 2022, down 5% from the year before, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. This was down from an unprecedented 2020, though. In news alone, 1,808 jobs were cut in 2022, up 20% from 2021, according to the firm.

The cuts have hit companies of all stripes, from entertainment giants like Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount Global which are racing to make their streaming businesses profitable to digital media companies such as BuzzFeed and Vice Media which are trying to bolster their valuations. Also affected were legacy journalism stalwarts like The Washington Post and USA Today owner Gannett, which laid off 400 staff and axed a further 400 positions in early December. 

More job losses have come in 2023, including at Spotify, which announced cuts of about 6%, or around 600 people; and The Wall Street Journal parent Dow Jones, which is laying off less than 2%. Entertainment industry observers are watching for expected cuts at Disney, where a hiring freeze and other cost controls are already in effect.

"The hottest labor market in American history inevitably is going to cool a little bit," Challenger said.

Here are 21 media and entertainment companies that have laid off staff as of January 2023:

AMC: 20% of 1,000+ staff, or around 200 people

the walking dead zombies
"The Walking Dead." 
Gene Page/AMC

AMC Networks, the parent company of the cable network behind "The Walking Dead," "Mad Men," and "Breaking Bad," is laying off 20% of its 1,000 American staffers, or about 200 people, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Its CEO, Christina Spade, the former AMC CFO who was in the top position for just three months, is also exiting, and is entitled to a cash severance payout of at least $10.5 million

"It was our belief that cord-cutting losses would be offset by gains in streaming. This has not been the case," AMC company chairman James Dolan wrote in a note to network staffers in late November, the Journal reported. AMC Networks subsidiaries also include IFC, Sundance TV, and streaming services AMC+, Shudder, and Acorn TV.  

Buzzfeed: 12% of staff, or 180 people

Jonah Peretti
Jonah Peretti. 
Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

BuzzFeed on December 6 laid off 12% of staff or 180 people, citing challenging economic conditions, opportunities to consolidate following its 2021 acquisition of Complex Networks, and a lag in monetizing the audience's shift to vertical video. The cuts focused on BuzzFeed and Complex, not HuffPost or BuzzFeed News, which had staff reductions in 2021 and earlier in 2022, respectively. "It's grim watching this happen to this company people really care about," one staffer told Insider.

BuzzFeed went public via a SPAC in late 2021 and its life as a public company has been rocky. Its stock price has plunged to below $1 and its first earnings call was marked by cuts to its workforce, a call for voluntary buyouts in its vaunted but money-losing news division, and the exit of three top editors. Looking ahead, the company said it was working to boost growth by ramping up its vertical video output and focusing on creator-driven content that has advertiser appeal.

DirecTV: 10% of the 10,000-person workforce

Satellite player DirecTV said in a staff memo that it's laying off 10% of its 10,000-member workforce, CNBC reported. The consolidation includes hundreds of managerial executives at the El Segundo, Calif., based company.

The company said in a statement that "the entire pay-TV industry is impacted by the secular decline and the increasing rates to secure and distribute programming." Viewers are dumping expensive long contracts for movies and TV shows in favor of direct-to-consumer relationships with streaming ventures such as Netflix. The change is also partly a result of the loss of "NFL Sunday Ticket," which is moving to YouTube. DirecTV is backed by AT&T and private equity giant TPG.

Dow Jones

The News Corp. building on 6th Avenue, home to Fox News, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal, on March 20, 2019 in New York City, New York.
The News Corp. building in New York City, New York. 
Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images

Layoffs came on January 11 to Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, MarketWatch, and others, with one knowledgeable source saying cuts would affect less than 2% of staff. IAPE, the union that represents Dow Jones employees, said the layoffs appear to be global, with employees in offices outside the US, including London and Barcelona, getting invitations to layoff meetings.

Gannett: 600 staffers

USA Today newspapers
Gannett announced widespread layoffs this year. 
Associated PRess

Media giant Gannett has spent the last few months making deep cuts to its fleet of newspapers, which includes flagship title USA Today as well as regional papers like The Indianapolis Star.

In August, the company cut 400 people and said it would not fill hundreds of open roles. Then this month, Gannett said it was cutting about 6% of its roughly 3,440-person media unit, or about 200 staffers. That news followed an announcement from Gannett CEO Mike Reed in October mandating unpaid leave as well as voluntary buyouts. 

Gannett has been under pressure as it tries to shift its business from print to digital, but the crunch in the ad market has hit the publicly-traded newspaper company hard. Its stock has fallen more than 60 percent this year.

G/O Media: 3% of staff, or 11 people

Splinter media was axed by parent company G/O Media.
G/O Media. 

Digital media publisher G/O, which comprises 11 brands, laid off 11 people — or about 3% of its staff — in December. G/O formed in 2019 when private equity firm Great Hill Partners acquired the former Gawker Media sites including Gizmodo, Jezebel, and Kotaku. This past summer, G/O also acquired the business news site Quartz.

CEO Jim Spanfeller wrote in a memo to staff, reviewed by Insider, that the layoffs were spread across the company's legacy and newer properties and were meant to eliminate redundancies in roles following the Quartz acquisition. "In no way is this a reflection on these people or their talents and abilities. It is simply a reflection of the final stages of incorporating a new business with some amount of acceleration due to the economic headwinds every company is currently facing," he wrote.

Morning Brew: 14% of the staff of 300

Alex Lieberman and Austin Rief
Morning Brew founders Alex Lieberman, left, and Austin Rief. 
Morning Brew

Morning Brew, a millennial-focused media company that was acquired by Insider Inc. in 2020, laid off 14% of its staff of about 300 in November.

Cofounder and CEO Austin Rief wrote in an email to staff that "a lot of fear and uncertainty" is scaring marketers, and that Morning Brew has felt the effects of the ad environment. Those impacted included Daniel Bentley, a managing editor overseeing two newsletters at Morning Brew, "Sidekick" and "Money Scoop;" reporter Katie Canales, who had joined Morning Brew from Insider; reporter Sherry Qin; executive producer Brian Henry; and senior editor Stassa Edwards.

NBCUniversal: reportedly seeking $1 billion in cuts across TV networks

The NBC logo and Comcast are displayed on 30 Rockefeller Plaza, formerly known as the GE building, in midtown Manhattan in New York July 23, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
The NBC logo and Comcast branding on 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York. 
Thomson Reuters

NBCUniversal started laying off ad salespeople in January after the company executed a buyout program across divisions offering early retirement to older employees.

The Comcast-owned giant was looking to keep costs under control in 2022, resulting in a cull that had impacted NBC Sports, E! Entertainment as well as NBC Group but was expected to hit much wider in January, according to senior insiders at the company. Bloomberg has reported that Comcast is looking for a billion dollars in cuts across the Philadelphia-based cable-to-satellite player. 

Netflix: 450-plus staffers

Hand holding a remote that points at the Netflix logo.
Photo by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Once a high-flying rocket ship, Netflix saw its wings clipped this year as the dominant streaming platform clocked subscriber losses and a subsequent hit to its share price. In the spring, the company slashed 450 full-time positions, then cut around 30 animation jobs and 70 animation contract roles.

The moves shook Netflix insiders, who noted a shift to "fear-based" decision-making among executives who were stretched thin. The streamer's subscriber figures have since rebounded, and the company is hiring in targeted areas such as gaming.

Outside Media: 12% of staff in November, on top of 15% of staff in May

Outside Media
Outside Media

Outside Media, the enthusiast publisher of titles including Backpacker, Ski, and Climbing laid off 12% of its staff in November, mainly in content and journalism roles. Founder and CEO Robin Thurston cited slowing consumer appetite and a softening digital ad market. Thurston also conceded that the company expanded too rapidly during the pandemic when it went on a shopping spree to capitalize on people's growing interest in the outdoors, and that some of the titles it bought were "extremely challenged." Outside previously laid off 15% of staff in May.

Paramount Global: 100 roles this quarter

Bob Bakish ViacomCBS
Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish. 

Paramount Global, under CEO Bob Bakish, has been trying to figure out how to integrate its premium cable offering, Showtime, with streamer Paramount+ and make savings at the same time. This quarter, Paramount axed an estimated 100 positions in marketing, international, and ad sales, according to Deadline.

Protocol: shuttered, 60-plus staffers laid off

John Legend, Elena Allbritton, and Politico founder and publisher Robert Allbritton
Politico founder Robert Allbritton. 
Brad Barket/Getty Images for POLITICO

Former Politico owner Robert Allbritton launched tech-focused web publication Protocol in early 2020, with the goal of making it the "ESPN of technology." But the outlet shuttered just two short years later and laid off a staff of more than 60 people amid a downturn in the industry that it covered, as Amazon, Meta and others also are letting go of thousands of staffers. 

"I expected layoffs because of the economy, but the full shutdown was a surprise," one impacted staffer told Insider in November, shortly after the layoffs. Protocol faced steep competition from the likes of Wired and The Verge, and insiders said there was a sense that business had begun to slow in the second half of 2022. 

Allbritton in 2021 sold Politico — and Protocol along with it — to Axel Springer, the parent company of Insider.

Recurrent Ventures: 52 staffers

Alex Vargas, CEO of Recurrent Ventures
Alex Vargas stepped up as Recurrent Ventures' CEO in October. 
Recurrent Ventures

Recurrent Ventures was once a bright spot in the digital media industry, a new kid on the block buying up legacy media brands like Popular Science as well as digital standouts like MEL Magazine. 

But in September, the private-equity-backed media company announced a round of layoffs, Insider first reported. Shortly thereafter, Recurrent's CEO and chief revenue officer both stepped aside. Alex Vargas, who joined the company in April as COO, stepped up as CEO in October.

The round of cuts — 52 people in total — followed Recurrent's decision in July to shutter MEL, the beloved men's lifestyle publication that it once hoped would be the backbone of a growing lifestyle division. 

The company, which grew aggressively as it charted an acquisition-heavy strategy, cited market forces when it announced the layoffs. As Insider reported, disorganization in the ad sales department and an unclear strategy also led to low morale and a struggling business. Now, however, the company is ready to use its $300 million war chest — backed by private-equity giant Blackstone — to make more media deals in 2023. 

Roku: 200 positions

The Roku TV main menu displayed on the JVC 43-inch Class 4K UHD QLED Roku Smart TV Quantum Series

After high hopes of expansion this year, Roku appeared to pause aspirations and ended the year making cuts. The company said that economic conditions meant that it would cut 200 of its 3,000 employees. CEO Anthony Wood, speaking on the company's third-quarter earnings call, said the holiday period was an unusual one this year in that advertisers who typically spent with the company were not spending with anyone. 

SmartNews: 120 positions

SmartNews, a venture-backed news aggregation site and app valued at $2 billion as of 2021, in January, announced a 40% reduction of its US and China workforce or around 120 people, TechCrunch reported. TechCrunch said the impacted roles included people in engineering, product, and data science. The company confirmed the layoffs to TechCrunch.

Founded in 2012, Tokyo-based SmartNews raised $230 million in 2021, bringing its total raised to $400 million.

Spotify: laid off 6%, or about 600 people

Daniel Ek
Daniel Ek, cofounder and CEO of Spotify. 
Greg Sandoval/Business Insider

Spotify said Jan. 23 it planned to reduce headcount by around 6%, or about 600 employees across the company, citing the challenging economy. 

Cofounder and CEO Daniel Ek said the music-streaming service had tried to rein in costs over the past few months but that it wasn't enough. He also said he tried to "sustain the strong tailwinds from the pandemic" but was "too ambitious in investing ahead of our revenue growth."

Along with the layoffs, Dawn Ostroff, chief content and advertising business officer, will leave the company. Alex Norström, chief freemium business officer, will take on oversight of content, advertising, and licensing work.

Vice Media: plans to cut costs by 15%

Nancy Dubuc, Vice Media CEO
Vice CEO Nancy Dubuc. 
Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

Vice Media has quietly been trimming its staff this year as it faces a softening advertising environment and sale speculation, though talks with Greek broadcaster Antenna group have stalled, the Wall Street Journal reported. Vice expects to miss its 2022 revenue target by about $100 million, according to the Journal, which will likely depress the $1.5 billion valuation its seeking from a buyer.

In October, Vice laid off a handful of staffers at its games and tech verticals, Waypoint and Motherboard. In November, it laid off about a dozen editorial staffers out of a few hundred following an editorial reorg. Next came news of cuts at its food vertical Munchies and music destination Noisey. CEO Nancy Dubuc warned of more reductions, emailing in November that the company would look to reduce staff by 15%, citing ongoing cutbacks by brands and advertisers.

The once high-flying digital darling cofounded in 1994 by Shane Smith was valued at $5.7 billion at its 2017 peak but has struggled under the weight of massive debt payments to private equity giant TPG. CNBC reported in May that Vice hired bankers to explore a sale of all or parts of the company.


Vimeo: 11% of about 1,200 staffers.

Anjali Sud, CEO of Vimeo, speaks during the company's direct listing on Nasdaq, Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in New York. The online video and software company is a spinoff from IAC.
Anjali Sud, CEO of Vimeo, speaks during the company's direct listing in 2021. 
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Vimeo is conducting a round of layoffs that will impact 11% of its workforce, CEO Anjali Sud wrote in a Jan. 4 email to staff

"This was a very hard decision that impacts each of us deeply," Sud wrote. "It is also the right thing to do to enable Vimeo to be a more focused and successful company, operating with the necessary discipline in an uncertain economic environment."

Vimeo went public in May 2021 after spinning off from IAC. Its main business is a software as a service that helps regular people create and distribute video content; it's been shifting its focus to serve big corporate clients like Gap, Nike, and Expedia and away from its role as a YouTube alternative.

The layoff follows a 6% trim in the workforce in July 2022.

Vox Media: laid off 7%, or about 130 people

Venture-backed digital media company Vox Media on Jan. 20 laid off 7% of staff, or about 130 people, according to reports.

The publisher of New York magazine, The Verge, and other publications, said it had already reduced spending and frozen hiring. CEO Jim Bankoff said the layoffs would affect revenue, editorial, operations, and core services.

Washington Post: plans to lay off single-digit percent of the workforce

the washington post
The Washington Post building in Washington. 
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

The Washington Post will lay off a single-digit percentage of its workforce in early 2023 to set itself up for the future, publisher Fred Ryan told staff in a town hall in December. Ryan said the size of the newsroom wouldn't shrink as a result of the cuts; a spokesperson said the paper would invest in coverage, products, and people to serve its subscribers and reach new audiences. A video posted on Twitter captured staffers yelling at Ryan at the town hall.

The news followed the Post's announcement in November that it would shutter its standalone print Sunday magazine and eliminate 10 staff positions. 

Sally Buzbee, the editor of the Post, told staffers in an email that the move was part of the paper's "global and digital transformation" and that the Post "will be shifting some of the most popular content, and adding more, in a revitalized Style section that will launch in the coming months," according to a Post story about the cuts. 

Newspaper print magazines on Sunday are something of a dying breed — though The New York Times and Boston Globe still offer the product. The Post's magazine has been publishing in some form for over six decades, according to the story. After the layoffs, the union representing staffers at the paper hit back at the organization, saying, "There is no economic justification for layoffs in a year when The Post has hired a record number of new employees."


Warner Bros. Discovery: more than 700 positions across divisions

Warner bros discovery
Discovery acquired WarnerMedia in April to form Warner Bros. Discovery. 
Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Perhaps no entertainment company has undergone as much corporate turmoil in 2022 as Warner Bros. Discovery, which is still digesting a megamerger that has combined WarnerMedia's HBO, HBO Max, CNN, and DC with Discovery's HGTV, Food Network, and other cable networks. 

As CEO David Zaslav looks for at least $3 billion in synergies, the company, which employs some 40,000 people worldwide, is shedding staff from nearly every major division. CNN has cut 400 positions including open job roles, on top of another 239 cuts following the short life of the news streaming platform CNN+. At Turner Sports and Bleacher Report, 70 people have lost their jobs, while WBD has axed 100 in ad sales as that division shrinks by 30% globally. 

Even at crown jewel HBO, Zas trimmed headcount by 14%, or about 70 people, over the summer, scrapping HBO Max's original unscripted team and yanking a plethora of titles from the streaming platform. 

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