Refinery29 Lays Off Staff, Points To Tough Times To Come In 2018 For Digital Media

Young women’s lifestyle content creator Refinery29 has laid off 34 employees, just slightly more than seven percent of its staff. The layoffs came despite the 12-year-old company raising more than $125 million to date from investors, including Turner and Scripps Networks.

“This year has been especially challenging for digital media and advertising companies,” said a company statement. “Refinery29 has seen tremendous growth, but is not immune to some of the negatives that this growth brings. As such, the team has made a difficult decision to part ways with 34 members of the team in an effort to make an investment in the future of the company.”

Refinery29 had more than 450 employees and an estimated 500 million users across various platforms.

The layoffs continue a tough year for the digital media industry BuzzFeed recently laid off an estimated 100 employees, while Mashable was sold to Ziff Davis for a price far below its former valuation of $250 million. Other companies in the space are also expected to report a shortfall on revenue.

In a memo to employees from co-founders Philippe von Borries and Justin Stefano, they warned that next year promises continued struggles in the digital media space.

“Looking ahead to 2018, we foresee that many of the challenges in our industry will likely continue — which is why we’re moving forward with clarity and resolution,” said the memo. “As dozens of content companies have been funded over the past 48 months, we’re seeing a correction in the digital media space. This is a time where the strongest businesses with the most meaningful brands and diversified revenue streams will continue to shine — and thrive.”

They added: “We are not immune to the challenges and tough decisions that come with adapting to this turbulent moment in time, despite our growth and momentum. As a leadership team, we must ensure the enduring success and influence of Refinery29 in the years ahead. And, in this particular moment that means tightening our belt in order to invest in the future.”  

Earlier this year, Refinery29 unveiled an ambitious slate of new programming at a presentation in New York. With the theme “Our Party Is Women,” the company announced projects with Willow Smith, Zosia Mamet, Rashida Jones, Chloe x Halle, Evan Rachel Wood and her band Rebel and a Basketcase, and Sasheer Zamata.

At that point, the company’s programming strategy was structured around three categories: Long-form content; new, expanded channels and returning franchises; and live events. The memo from the co-founders reiterated their commitment to moving forward on the projects.

“In the coming years, we will continue our evolution from a digital advertising company to a diversified media company that shows up in original video content, TV, films, social, books, products and live entertainment.”

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