News aggregator SmartNews lays off 40% of its staff in the US and China, more layoffs planned in Japan
We’re only two weeks into 2023 and more than 23,000 tech workers have already been laid off. The latest is SmartNews, a Tokyo, Japan-headquartered news aggregation website and app. SmartNews announced today it is laying 40% or around 120 of its U.S. and China workforce, TechCrunch reported, citing sources familiar with the company’s plans.
According to the report, U.S. and Chinese employees including those in engineering, product, and data science will be impacted by the recent layoff. While SmartNews employees in the U.S. and China were let go, SmartNews says its employees in Japan will soon undergo a “voluntary departure program,” but the company didn’t provide any specifics about that will play out. The news was announced on Thursday in an all-hands meeting attended this evening by SmartNews staff, TechCrunch reported.
The latest layoff from SmartNews further shows that no media outlet is immune from the ongoing economic slowdown. For many years, traditional media outlets like TV and radio have fallen on hard times and some were forced to either shut down their operations or reduced their headcount. SmartNews is the latest in a series of digital news media layoffs that are hitting companies from Buzzfeed the Washington Post, and CNN, to Vice.
“This isn’t your fault and I am sorry to see you leave,” SmartNews CEO Ken Suzuki said when making the announcement.
SmartNews was founded in 2012 in Japan. The company made its US debut in 2014 and expanded its local news footprint in early 2020 to cover thousands of U.S. cities. SmartNews has partnerships with over 3,000 global publishing partners whose content is available through its service on the web and mobile devices.
Since its inception over a decade ago, SmartNews has raised a total of $410.3 million in funding over 6 rounds at a $2 billion valuation. Their latest funding was raised on Sep 15, 2021, from a Series F round. Although we don’t have any information about the company’s profitability, estimates put SmartNews’s annual revenue at about $112 million.
SmartNews’ app has been downloaded by more than 35 million people and has over 10 million monthly active users. The company has a total of 608 employees before the recent layoff.