Audio streaming platform Spotify announced Monday that it plans to lay off about 200 people, including employees at popular podcast studios Gimlet Media and Percast.
The 2% workforce cut is part of a “strategic restructuring” of the podcast division, Spotify’s head of podcasts Sahar Elhabasi said Monday in a memo to Spotify employees.
Since early 2019, the number of podcast shows on Spotify has grown from about 200,000 to more than 5 million, Elhabashi said in a revised memo posted on Spotify’s website.
It was a booming period for the podcasting industry, and media companies were investing heavily to expand their services. Stockholm-based Spotify acquired Gimlet for $230 million in 2019 and The Ringer for around $200 million in 2020, signaling that it’s expanding its ambitions beyond music streaming. . That spending surge slowed last year as companies cut back on podcast work and cut budgets.
Elhabasi said Spotify’s job cuts are part of an effort to give podcast creators more choice. As part of the restructuring, Gimlet and Percast will be absorbed into Spotify Studios, he said.
Founded in 2014, Gimlett has launched “Reply All,” which was discontinued in 2021 after some employees criticized the workplace culture, and “Heavyweight,” which helps people face unresolved issues of the past. Known for popular podcasts.
In May, the Gimlet staff, especially host Connie Walker, won a Pulitzer Prize for best audio report for the show Stolen: Surviving St. Michael’s. In the podcast, Walker explored the experiences of fathers and hundreds of other Indigenous children in Canada’s boarding school system. Spotify announced that it would continue to produce the show.
Parcast produces podcasts such as Disappearance and Dare to Read, a full-blown crime show hosted by vulnerability researcher and author Brené Brown.
Gimlet, Parcast and The Ringer, all owned by Spotify Studios, will continue to produce new shows and podcasts, Elhabashi said.
“Our continued success in growing the podcast ecosystem is based on the need for the Spotify machine to always be on,” said Elhabasi. “And with these changes, Podcasts on Spotify, with strong discovery and podcasting habits for users, monetization and audience growth for creators, and a valuable and profitable business for Spotify, is heading into the next chapter.” We will accelerate.”
in the statement On Monday, the Gimlett and Percast labor union, part of the Writers Guild of America East Chapter, criticized Spotify’s handling of the studio acquisitions. “They squandered that opportunity by canceling shows with dedicated audiences, by leaving half-baked projects out in the open, and by giving the team little direction as to what they actually wanted to produce,” the statement said. said.
“Spotify bought Gimlet because we saw something special in the studio,” the union said. “But instead of building on that tradition, the company undermined it, and four years later there is no Gimlet anymore.”
The Percast union said its employees’ final months at the company were “plagued by a lack of direction and transparency, confusion, and announcements that were pushed back hours or even days after they were announced.” rice field.
Spotify declined to comment on the union’s statement.
Podcast downloads will grow 20% year-over-year in 2022, but investment in the industry has slowed, according to a January report from audio audience measurement firm Triton Digital.
Podcast publishers like Vox Media and Pushkin Industries have announced job cuts this year. Other media companies like Amazon, SiriusXM and NPR also cut podcast budgets last year.
Spotify laid off dozens of podcast employees at Gimlet and Parcast in October 2022. In January, Spotify announced it would lay off about 600 employees.