Asia Tech Media Startup E27 Lays Off Half Of Team In Restructuring Move

The first major news of the year from Asia’s growing spectrum of tech media companies is in. After Singapore-based tech blog E27 instituted restructuring that has resulted in half of its 40 employees leaving the company.

E27, which was founded in 2006, is best known for its Echelon tech events across Asia and as a news site covering tech updates from the region. Last year, in a move to diversify its business and grow its attachment to the tech community, E27 introduced a marketplace for services catering to startups.

These layoffs, which TechCrunch understands from sources close to the company were made to cut costs, come after E27 bagged $650,000 in funding last summer ahead of what we understood would be a larger injection of cash (to the tune of around $3 million) before the end of 2015. It appears that this funding hasn’t materialized yet. It isn’t uncommon for companies to preen their operations and costs to get into shape ahead of a possible round — TrueCaller in Europe seemed to do that recently — but E27 did not comment on its funding plans.

Now it remains to be seen how the company’s events and editorial business will evolve going forward with fewer resources assigned to them.

“We are restructuring to be more lean and focused,” E27 CEO Mohan Belani told TechCrunch. “The entire landscape in the region is evolving. So are we. Every year we are learning, evolving and growing. I believe it’s important to continue to grow, change, iterate and evolve to remain relevant.”

Belani declined to be specific about exactly how many staff had left, but TechCrunch understands from multiple sources that the figure is near 20. The E27 CEO did confirm that layoffs would affect all teams, and not just events or editorial.

“They’re both quite intertwined and work together. So it’s necessary to look at the company and evolve it as a whole, not just individual groups,” Belani said.

E27’s restructuring comes amid increasing competition among tech-focused media in Asia. Tech In Asia, which is probably E27’s chief rival in terms of events and media coverage, completed the Y Combinator accelerator program, raised $4 million and made numerous business changes last year, while Deal Street Asia, an ambitious media startup that landed undisclosed funding, plans to launch events and data intelligence services.

Beyond competition for eyeballs and ad money, there’s concern that the financial uncertainty in China (stock market) and India (where valuations are tipped to be ‘readjusted’ this year) will be passed on to Southeast Asia. It is feared that investor unease in those larger markets could make it harder for startups in Southeast Asia to raise funding and maintain their desired valuations. And, for media companies, those conditions could create a tougher climate for drumming up interest in events, sponsorship and other services that pay the bills.