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Vox Media fires 72 employees as advertising revenue falls

Vox Media dismissed 6% of its employees, or approximately 72 employees, because advertising revenues declined due to coronavirus quarantines.

The majority of the layoffs were on leave from the company earlier this year, CEO Jim Bankoff said in an email to the employees they received from CNBC. Vox eliminates roles that “have experienced significant changes in workload or business priority; in some cases, they are in areas where strategic change is accelerated by the crisis and accelerated changes in our industry.”

Some other unpaid employees will also be affected, Bankoff said. Vox brings back about 30% of the employees who took it off in spring. CNBC reported the upcoming layoffs earlier this week.

While Vox met its sales targets for the first two months of 2020, Vox was 40% below its second quarter forecast and plans to miss its full-year target by 25%, two of the respondents said, CNBC reported.

Media companies in the U.S. had to cut salaries and personnel during the corona virus pandemic to make up for lost advertising revenue. Vox avoided layoffs earlier this year with wage cuts and vacation. Vox will reinstate full salaries after temporarily lowering wages in May, with the exception of Bankoff and his leadership team, Bankoff said.

“When we merged with New York Media last year, we did everything we could to avoid layoffs. As a result, we were the only recent media merger that kept the teams intact,”

; Bankoff said in the note. “Based on our current prospects, we expect the difficult measures we are taking today to be sufficient to weather this downturn and uncertainty without the need for any major additional measures.”

Vox Media owns news, technology and culture sites such as Vox, The Verge, New York Magazine, Eater, SBNation and Curbed.

Here is the full letter:


Dear Team,

With deep sadness and as a result of the pandemic and its devastating effects on the economy, I would like to inform you that today we will inform some of our colleagues that they will no longer have jobs at Vox Media.

It goes without saying that COVID-19 had an impact that no one could have predicted. First and foremost, of course, we recognize the tragedy and the extent of the public health crisis. Given the resulting economic downturn in the media and other industries, companies are realigning their businesses to cut costs and save cash while remaining agile in an extremely unpredictable environment. While our work and efforts have never been stronger or more relevant, Vox Media has not been relieved of the pain caused by the pandemic. Like others, we had to make difficult decisions to position our business for long-term growth, success and financial sustainability. In doing so, we make every reasonable effort to save as many jobs as possible and to prioritize the health, safety and well-being of those who leave the company and those who remain in our company.

We will fire 6% of our employees. These layoffs include colleagues on leave as well as other employees who were not on leave. The roles affected have undergone significant changes in workload or business priority. In some cases, they are in areas that are undergoing strategic change, accelerated by the crisis and accelerated changes in our industry. The majority of those affected today were on leave in May. We already have or will return almost 30% of the employees on leave who have not made any takeovers.

We hoped in May that business would recover in the months that followed. As we discussed in last week’s all-hands, it is becoming increasingly clear that the second half of the year will not nearly recover from our forecasts before COVID. With cases increasing dramatically across the country and many of our elected leaders avoiding resolute action, we have very limited insight into the timing or strength of a recovery.

As we have said since the onset of the crisis and hopefully demonstrated to you through our actions over the past five months, the well-being of our team was our priority in this pandemic. Accordingly, the affected employees receive health insurance and severance packages that take into account the unprecedented circumstances of the crisis.

I also hope that it is clear that we are a company that does not take these measures lightly. Neither the vacation days nor today’s promotions were considered before this pandemic. As I mentioned, last year we did everything we could to avoid layoffs when we merged with New York Media. As a result, we were the only recent media merger that kept the teams intact.

Based on our current prospects, we expect the difficult measures we are taking today to be sufficient to weather this downturn and uncertainty without the need for any major additional measures. Wherever necessary and possible, we will still be aware of the costs and reinvest in our business and our employees in a way that is critical to building the leading modern media company at this time:

  • We will continue to prioritize our work in diversity, justice and inclusion, invest in partnerships that drive this work, and embed responsibility for this work in each of our networks and business areas.
  • After the temporary and gradual pay cut that we introduced in May, we will reinstate full salaries as planned. We believe it is crucial to fully compensate our employees for their work at a time when they have performed so well under such stressful conditions. The only exceptions are me and my management team, who will continue our reductions.
  • We will prioritize career development and evaluate promotions for people in a new role or for a significantly different job than just before or during the crisis.
  • And in areas where we will grow, we will hire business-critical minds in new roles that are aligned with our corporate priorities.

Thank you to everyone concerned for everything you have created, built, supported, produced, sold and for the countless other contributions that you have made to our work at Vox Media. Today’s decisions do not reflect your work or your success, but a devastating pandemic that has changed the economy and businesses around the world. The rest of us who are not affected today will also be severely affected by the departure of our colleagues.

I know that it is a particularly difficult time as everyone is also dealing with the multi-layered burdens of health, safety, parenthood, loneliness, burnout and general insecurity. I would like to remind you of the various mental health benefits that we have described in detail in previous communications. In the face of many challenges, we continue to do our best, serve our target groups and customers remotely and treat each other with empathy and compassion. I couldn’t be more grateful or proud. It is your spirit and commitment to your work and to each other that gives me full confidence that Vox Media is in a unique position for renewed growth, continued industry leadership and success in a post-pandemic economy.

People & Culture executives, executives and business partners will contact employees today to discuss their employment status and I will host an all-hands meeting for all employees who wish to attend later in the afternoon.



Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Vox Media.

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