Startups keep laying off swaths of employees as the downturn continues

It’s nearly been two months since we started this accidental weekly column about layoffs happening within startups. Workforce reductions have impacted startup employees in every massive sector, from crypto to SaaS to edtech and mobility. And what felt at first like a trend that only impacted growth-stage startups that had gotten over their skis, a much wider swath of companies has begun letting employees know they are making meaningful cuts.

TechCrunch listed this week’s known and confirmed layoffs below:

Ro cuts 18% of staff despite narrowing focus, raising additional capital

Ro, a healthcare unicorn that last raised $150 million just months ago at a $7 billion valuation, has cut 18% of its staff to “manage expenses, increase the efficiency of our organization and better map our resources to our current strategy,” leadership wrote in an email obtained by TechCrunch and confirmed by multiple sources.

“Due to our obligation to protect patient healthcare information, there will not be a transition period for those departing the company,” the email continues. “We know that this will feel abrupt and hope you can find alternative ways to connect to say goodbye to your teammates.” Impacted employees will get two months of severance pay and support for job placement. The healthcare unicorn is offering two months of paid healthcare benefits.

Ro confirmed the news to TechCrunch and provided a copy of the aforementioned email that CEO Zachariah Reitano sent to staff. A spokeswoman said that Ro is still hiring.

Ro’s decision to lay people off comes after a number of executives left the company, including Ro COO George Koveos, GM of Ro Pharmacy Steve Buck and most recently, Modern Fertility co-founder Afton Vechery. Vechery’s departure, which happened around one year after her company was acquired by Ro, has been rumored for over six months — first sparked by an employee exodus that peaked last year. At that time, former and current employees spoke about rising tensions at Ro that were caused by the health tech company’s inability to gain meaningful revenue from newer products.

MasterClass cut 20%, or 120 people, of its team

MasterClass, an education platform that sells subscriptions to celebrity-taught classes, has cut 20% of its team to “adapt to the worsening macro environment and get to self-sustainability faster,” CEO David Rogier tweeted on Wednesday afternoon. The layoff impacts roughly 120 people across all teams, but no C-suite executives were cut, a MasterClass spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch.

“Our mission — to make it possible for anyone to learn from the best — hasn’t and won’t change,” Rogier continued on Twitter. “This very tough step will strengthen our position both financially and strategically, allowing us to serve our members, employees and instructors for many years to come.”

A MasterClass spokesperson said that the company will be offering 11 weeks of base pay to all employees as part of a severance package, with one additional week for every year spent at MasterClass. The company is also waiving the one-year investing cliff, and employees will have the chance to extend options. The startup has committed to covering employee healthcare through the end of the year. It is also providing mental health counseling until the end of the year and job counseling for the next three months. Laptops can be kept for personal use.

Superpedestrian, Voi continue layoffs in the micromobility world

Voi Technology announced this week that it has cut 35 jobs, or 10% of its staff, to focus on “further increasing” profitability and a goal to reduce headquarter-related costs, per Mathias Hermansson, chief financial officer and deputy CEO at Voi. Meanwhile, Superpedestrian confirmed to TechCrunch that it will be reducing the size of its global team by 7%, impacting 35 employees.

As TC’s Rebecca Bellan points out, the micromobility industry, which has long struggled to be profitable, is starting to get hit by layoffs. A few weeks ago, scooter company Bird laid off 23% of its staff.

Netflix (again)

Netflix has laid off 300 people, or around 3% of its workforce, because of slowing growth and the downturn. This is the entertainment company’s third round of layoffs in three months: It let go of 150 staffers in May, a number of staffers for its editorial arm in April, and now is cutting a large chunk of U.S. employees, with some impacted in Asia Pacific, Latin America and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), as well.

As Ivan Mehta reports, “the company hit a growth roadblock this year, as it lost more than 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter. At that time, the firm said that it expects to lose 2 million global paid subscribers in the second quarter. The company cited the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the COVID pandemic and password sharing as some primary factors causing the slowdown.”

Netflix stock, which was around $512 a year ago, is trading at $188 at time of publication.