There was plenty to celebrate. The company had just finished rolling out its annual Wrapped feature, which allows consumers to share data about their usage. It is one of the company’s most successful marketing campaigns. For days, everywhere you looked on social media, Spotify users were posting their year-end listening round-ups, generating tons of free publicity for the service.
Read more about Spotify Wrapped 2023
The good mood didn’t last long. Days later, the company announced widespread layoffs totaling 1,500.
“We still have too many people dedicated to supporting work and even doing work around the work rather than contributing to opportunities with real impact,” CEO Daniel Ek said in a statement announcing the cuts. “More people need to be focused on delivering for our key stakeholders – creators and consumers.”
From 2020 to 2022, as it expanded into podcasts and audiobooks, Spotify doubled its workforce. But the bet on podcasting has not lived up to its lofty ambitions, leaving Ek scrambling to scale back.
With Spotify’s human resources staff unable to speak to all affected employees until the end of the day on Tuesday, anxious staff members tried to figure out among themselves where the cuts had been made.
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On Wednesday, during an all-hands meeting, Ek mostly stuck to his talking points, telling employees that he wants the company to be profitable and was making the big cuts now to avoid smaller ones throughout the next year or two, according to people who attended the meeting and asked not to be identified. Throughout the talk, the comments in the virtual meeting room’s group chat were tense. At one point, when Ek told people to bring questions and concerns to their managers, a chorus of workers typed that their bosses had been let go.
In the days since, more details have circulated among Spotify staffers. The cuts hit the podcast sales and hosting arm of the company, including people at Megaphone, which provides software for podcasts, and at Spotify Ad Analytics, as well as the director of ad integrity and brand safety.