Vox Media lays off 39 people amid economic uncertainty

Vox Media is laying off 39 people, less than 2% of its total staff of more than 2000, in an effort to get ahead of economic uncertainty, according to a source familiar with the cuts and a memo obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: Vox Media is the latest in a long string of firms taking measures to prepare for a potential economic downturn.

  • Analysts have begun cutting projections for advertising growth this year, sending shockwaves through the media and tech industries.

Details: The company is laying off staffers in a few key areas, including recruiting, some editorial roles and sales.

  • The cuts are targeted towards certain parts of the company, including some departments within its lifestyle site, Thrillist.
  • The company will continue to hire for critical roles, the source noted, but will reduce the pace of hiring moving forward. More than two dozen listings still appear on Vox Media’s website.

Wha they’re saying: “The current economic conditions are impacting companies like ours in multiple ways, with supply chain issues reducing marketing and advertising budgets across industries and economic pressures changing the ways that consumers spend,” Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff wrote in a memo to staff.

  • “Our aim is to get ahead of greater uncertainty by making difficult but important decisions to pare back on initiatives that are lower priority or have lower staffing needs in the current climate.”

Catch-up quick: Vox Media isn’t a stranger to layoffs, but most of its cuts have typically been pretty targeted.

  • The company laid off roughly 50 people citing “industry changes” in 2018. At the time, most cuts were made around its social and video teams.
  • It furloughed 9% of its staff from May 1 through July 31 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • It laid off 3% of its staff following the Group Nine merger in March.

What to watch: In the memo, Bankoff said the economic uncertainty and the cuts don’t reflect a change to the company’s overarching strategy.

  • The company has been investing heavily in building up its podcast and studios businesses in the past few years. It’s also focusing more on consumer revenues through subscriptions to some of its properties, like New York Magazine.

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