Spotify Announces 200 Podcasting Layoffs, Combines Parcast and Gimlet, and Revives Spotify Studios Amid Push for ‘A Valuable, High-Margin Business’

Spotify podcast studio in Los Angeles opening
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Spotify podcast studio in Los Angeles opening
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Photo Credit: Spotify

Amid an aggressive push for podcasting profitability, Spotify has announced yet another round of layoffs – affecting about 200 individuals working in and around its “global podcast vertical.”

The Stockholm-headquartered platform unveiled the personnel reduction today, towards the end of a lengthy “adaptation of an internal update” penned by podcast exec Sahar Elhabashi. Having dropped billions on exclusive programs and spoken-word businesses in recent years, Spotify has since 2022 been taking steps to trim expenses on the podcasting side.

Independent of an across-the-board layoff round revealed at 2023’s beginning, these podcast-centered cutbacks have thus far involved the shutdown of Spotify Studios, a number of executive departures, and the cancellation of several original series (as well as multiple live-audio shows).

Additionally, the newly cost-conscious Spotify has through the year’s first five or so months axed Heardle (which it only bought in 2022), done away with Spotify Live, and moved to hire team members including but not limited to a copy lead who will “assume ownership of the Spotify for podcasters brand voice.”

It’s against this backdrop that Spotify has made the initially mentioned “approximately 200” layoffs, reaching about two percent of its workforce and representing one component of a wider “strategic realignment,” according to Elhabashi, who was named VP, head of podcast business in January.

It’s unclear exactly which positions the layoffs are affecting; Elhabashi indicated that HR had already contacted the impacted professionals, none of whom had published related posts on LinkedIn at the time of this writing. Broadly, these persons’ responsibilities extend to the “global podcast vertical and other functions.”

In any event, the company is also combining Parcast and Gimlet “into a renewed Spotify Studios operation” – with the unit (as well as the still-independent Ringer) poised to “greenlight new shows with an increased focus on always-on programming that” attracts an audience large enough to generate material advertising revenue.

On the execs front, more than four-year higher-up Liz Gateley is transitioning from senior creative executive for Spotify Originals to Spotify Studios’ head of development, with former Parcast MD Liliana Kim now handling “current content” for the revived division. Bill Simmons is set to keep on leading The Ringer while simultaneously working to enhance “monetization opportunities across all our podcasts.”

Finally, in terms of the shakeup’s specifics, Elhabashi’s employer intends to expand “teams that support creator partnerships under” head of content partnerships Bryan Thoensen, who joined from TikTok in September.

“Our continued success in growing the podcast ecosystem is predicated on the necessity that the Spotify Machine is always in motion,” Elhabashi relayed in closing. “And with these changes, we will accelerate into the next chapter for podcasts on Spotify with strong discovery and podcast habits for users, thriving monetization and audience growth for creators, and a valuable, high-margin business for Spotify.”

Today, Spotify’s stock (a substantial portion of which belongs to ValueAct Capital Management) cracked another 52-week high, this time by hitting $157.13 per share. Late last month, SoundCloud detailed a layoff round of its own as it looks to achieve “profitability by the end of this year.”