Does Slacker Radio see profitability in massively laying off its employees?
In an interview with Music Ally, Slacker Radio CEO Duncan Orrell-Jones criticized Spotify and Pandora’s “unsustainable” business models. However, does a “sustainable” music streaming model include eliminating up to half of your workforce in one fell swoop?
Duncan Orrell-Jones shared his plan on turning Slacker Radio into a profitable company. The key is carving out a plan to remain as a niche player in the streaming market. Stronger competitors Amazon, Google, and Apple “look at the space very differently and that clearly makes it a challenge”. These “pureplay” companies, he suggested, will face a battle for survival as they bet everything on music streaming.
“We are comfortable with the idea of being at a smaller scale. We are on the cusp of profitability.”
However, did Duncan Orrell-Jones’ above literally give away what would happen to the company’s workforce?
Earlier today, Digital Music News received an anonymous e-mail. Slacker Radio had quietly laid off many of the company’s employees. In fact, CEO Duncan Orrell-Jones worked hard to keep the news quiet, according to the source.
The e-mail reads,
“Slacker laid off about half the company today in the ugliest manner possible. Normally, I would let this news go through the normal channels, but the way in which they let our co-workers go, and the fact that our CEO is threatening us in order to keep it quiet is enough for us to send this to you.”
In the e-mail, the anonymous source claims the company laid off “about half the company.” To confirm the news, I checked Slacker Radio’s blog for a press release on the source’s above statement. After failing to find anything related, I contacted Slacker Radio. A company spokesperson confirmed the news.
The spokesperson, however, said that Slacker Radio only let go 25% of its workforce. In a statement to DMN, CEO Duncan Orrell-Jones said,
“Slacker Radio is laying off approximately 25% of the team as part of our ongoing effort to focus on efficiency and accelerate the path towards profitability. Our strategy has always been to innovate in the radio and music space, and we’ve been working hard to develop new experiences that we believe will fulfill the promise of radio reimagined. The Slacker Radio App will not be affected by these changes, nor will several new product releases that are scheduled for later this year.”
No word yet on the exact number of employees laid off. The company has not yet responded to a follow-up e-mail.
The anonymous source that alerted Digital Music News also strongly criticized the company’s upper management. The source wrote,
“We hope that in Slacker’s memorial, you’ll remember us for what we could have been… than what we became under the most insane and absurd leadership you can imagine.
“There are lots of really talented folks that got let go today here in [San Diego] with experience in digital music beyond most of our competitors and peers.”