The company behind a texting platform that powered more than 1,300 Democratic campaigns has slashed its staff in the lull following the 2018 midterms. Hustle co-founder and CEO Roddy Lindsay, a former Facebook engineer, disclosed the layoffs in a recent Medium post, apologizing for the choices that led up to the decision to “right-size” Hustle’s team.
“… While we have an exciting set of initial commercial customers using Hustle successfully, it was premature to aggressively expand our team — we need the time to do the research with our customers and build the right product to support industries beyond politics and non-profits,” Lindsay wrote in the layoff announcement. “I made the rookie misstep of not watching our growth closely enough, and we ended up overbuilding our team beyond our means.”
Bloomberg reports that Hustle’s aggressive layoffs reduced its team by 35 percent. TechCrunch has reached out to Hustle to confirm those numbers.
It sounds like Hustle scaled up considerably in the lead-up to midterms, undertaking “an enormous operational challenge” that ultimately could not be sustained after the political cycle died down. The company’s booming success and its post-race contraction serve as a cautionary tale for startups that hitch their wagon to the inherently boom and bust nature of political campaigning. To correct course, Hustle has brought in “strong finance leadership” and plans to chart a fiscally realistic path forward.
Hustle’s platform allows clients to mobilize and optimize texting campaigns that eschew mass texting templates. Within Hustle’s system, designated point people can manage and personalize texting campaigns, tracking progress in the platform as they go. A number of Democratic and progressive campaigns have leveraged Hustle for their causes, most notably the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016. Notably, Hustle exclusively opens its platform to causes on the political left.
Last May, Hustle raised a $30 million Series B, led by Insight Venture Partners. Less than a year prior, the company picked up $8 million for its Series A. A small team of 17 people in early 2017, Hustle had swelled to more than 100 by May of 2018.
Lindsay asserts that the decision should make Hustle more financially sustainable and poised for “long-term impact.” In the blog post, he notes that Hustle will zero in on its nonprofit client core moving forward.
“There aren’t many companies who have been able to pair business success and positive political and civic impact in the world,” Lindsay wrote. “In 2018, we discovered why: it’s really, really difficult.”