Layoffs hit Recurrent Ventures, the private-equity-backed owner of Popular Science, Saveur, and The Drive

Layoffs hit Recurrent Ventures, the private-equity-backed owner of Popular Science, Saveur, and The Drive

Recurrent Ventures laid off staffers on Wednesday, according to a memo obtained by Insider. 

The private-equity-backed digital media company made cuts across its operations and revenue teams, as well as in editorial "specifically across areas of unprofitable investments," CEO Lance Johnson told staffers in the memo. 

The cuts come months after Recurrent Ventures shuttered MEL Magazine, the digital media darling it rescued from closure last year. 

One current Recurrent staffer told Insider that the staff was "totally surprised" at the fresh round of cuts. 

"We were told after the MEL disaster that a) there were no more layoffs coming and b) this would be handled better," this staffer said. "Neither of those things were the case."

This person said that several brands had their commerce teams eliminated or greatly scaled back. 

It was not immediately clear, however, how many people in total were affected by the layoffs. A Recurrent spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment. 

"The growth in our expenses has outpaced our revenue growth and we need to recalibrate," Johnson wrote in the memo.

Recurrent's rocky period comes shortly after it emerged as a high-flying media presence looking to grow an empire of beleaguered digital properties. The company raised $75 million in 2021, Insider reported, to fuel acquisitions. Its portfolio includes military site Task & Purpose, home improvement property Bob Vila, and the former Condé Nast home style publication Domino.

As most of you know, earlier this month we initiated some changes to the business, primarily to reduce contractor costs, travel expenses, and new hires. I can confirm that today we also made the difficult decision to reduce our workforce across the operations and revenue organizations, as well as content teams, specifically across areas of unprofitable investments.

Since our inception, we have experienced tremendous audience and revenue growth. This year we developed a hiring and operating plan to support that trajectory. However, the growth in our expenses has outpaced our revenue growth and we need to recalibrate. Out of respect for the impacted employees, whom we spoke with directly throughout the day, we have waited until now to inform you.

Two months ago we made the tough call to sunset MEL and restructure our sales teams. Since then, we have continued to analyze our organization and investments in detail, which led us to further changes to maintain a profitable and growing future. Against the backdrop of macroeconomic uncertainty, we have identified unprofitable areas including continued softness in Direct Sales and over-hiring across various departments that need to be reset to align our team size for the current scale of the business. This has been a rigorous process with tremendously difficult decisions made to agree on a strategy and cost model that is viable for the business now and in the future. We have worked with leaders across departments to ensure that teams have the resources needed to be successful and to execute a more focused strategy going forward. This approach for Q4 and next year will allow us to strengthen our operational foundation and lean into our strengths before further expanding.

While these changes are difficult, they will ultimately allow us to continue to invest in our brands and initiatives with the most opportunity for growth. None of this alters what Recurrent is capable of, and we will continue to operate the business profitably while deploying our latest financing on additional acquisitions. We have an incredible team, an industry-leading portfolio of brands, and continued support from our board and investors.

Please be on the lookout for an all-hands invite, which will be held tomorrow. We will talk about these changes in more specific detail then.

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