After a brief lull when it looked like national media jobs might actually be growing thanks largely to the “Trump bump” in advertising revenue and the largesse of billionaire benefactors (see the Washington Post and LA Times), it looks like the American national media is back in job-shedding mode.
But the latest media organization to announce mass layoffs might not be what you would expect (*cough* BuzzFeed *cough*): On Wednesday afternoon, Verizon Media Group (which was briefly known as Oath) – which houses Yahoo’s former media division (including Yahoo Finance) – announced that it would slash 7% of its total headcount, equivalent to some 800 jobs, according to CNBC.
The layoffs come after the division has consistently underperformed, and follow company-wide buyouts in December.
“Our goal is to create the best experiences for our consumers and the best platforms for our customers,” a Verizon spokesperson told CNBC. “Today marks a strategic step toward better execution of our plans for growth and innovation into the future.”
In an email to staff announcing the cuts, Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan appeared to mimic the same tired “pivot to video” that has been tried unsuccessfully by many other media organizations.
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Subject: Team Update
Last quarter, our leadership team worked to create the strategy that will propel Verizon Media. We honestly assessed where we are and outlined ambitious but achievable goals that poise us for growth. We shared it broadly with you, and together committed to deliver on our OKRs with meticulous planning, collaboration and rigorous execution.
As hard as it may have felt at times, we’ve made some great strides to serve our customers globally – from consolidating ad platforms, to expanding the Microsoft partnership, growing live programming and content offerings for our Supers, and prioritizing and launching 8 new or substantially updated products at Build It 2018.
In Q1, we’ll have 3 priority areas: first, grow our member-centric ecosystem with must-have mobile and video products and stem desktop declines; second, increase usage and spends flowing through B2B platforms; third, expand our video supply and overall distribution through partnerships. As we work to deliver on both short-term objectives to stabilize our business, we are also focused on long-term strategies that will accelerate distribution, growth and innovation as part of Verizon.
This week, we will make changes that will impact around 7% of our global workforce across the organization, as well as certain brands and products. These were difficult decisions, and we will ensure that our colleagues are treated with respect and fairness, and given the support they need. Resources and other career support will be provided to help our team members navigate the transition.
In addition, we’ve completed an exhaustive review to prioritize the programs that are currently in our portfolio – consumer products, ad products, platform features, partnerships and data centers.
While every business unit has to manage their P&L, these decisions are being made to streamline resources and invest in opportunities that will help us grow. You all know by now that I deeply believe in an owner mindset and focus as a key ingredient for success – going deep on fewer, key things that will have the greatest impact on our customers and business, and doing them exceptionally well.
I want to be clear that we will continue to scale, launch new products and innovate. We are an important part of Verizon and the $7+ billion in revenue we generate through our member-centric ecosystem puts us among the top tech/media companies in the world. Now is the time to go on the offensive, go deep on our big priorities and do everything we can to advance the business. We will talk more about this and answer questions Friday at Open House.
Our world continues to evolve at a faster pace, and we need to leap ahead of consumer trends. We are reimagining our future, and building new products that will become invaluable to consumers today and in the years to come. That’s the spirit of our company and the spirit we all embody as its Builders.
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Notably, the mass layoffs at Verizon come shortly after Mic, the millennial-focused media website, abruptly laid off nearly its entire staff.
The cuts come after Hans Vestberg, Verizon’s CEO, said the carrier would focus on its network rather than buying media content, according to WSJ.
Despite the layoffs, the group intends to hire engineers to work on media products that will showcase Verizon’s 5G technology.