Airtable, the code-free software company valued at $11.7 billion, announced layoffs of 237 employees, or 27% of its workforce, on September 14, 2023. The move follows a December 2022 layoff of 254 employees, and comes amid a wave of layoffs in the tech sector.
In a statement to Forbes, CEO Howie Liu said the layoffs are necessary to focus the company on winning large enterprise clients and to get spending under control.
“The market has tipped towards favoring efficient growth over growth at all costs,” Liu said. “We must operate the business in a more mature way that puts us on a path to become a public company and to have durability and efficiency in how we grow.”
Liu said Airtable had been swept up in the hiring frenzy that spread across the tech world following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I let myself get caught in the hyper-competitive environment at that time,” Liu said. “We had the capital and said, ‘let’s hyper-scale; let’s recruit as many smart people as we can and just throw them into the business and see what they can do.'”
Liu said Airtable will be cash flow positive after this round of layoffs.
The cuts will be company-wide, with the largest layoffs hitting product and sales teams that were focused on selling and servicing smaller clients.
“We are realigning to go after bigger use cases, and therefore bigger deals,” Liu said. “We want to consistently get customers with million-dollar-plus spend rates, versus supporting lots of little ten-thousand-dollar customers from a sales touch standpoint.”
Airtable was launched in 2013 as a cloud-based spreadsheet startup to rival Microsoft Excel. It has since grown into an $11 billion company that offers more than 50 collaboration apps to more than 450,000 companies, including S&P 500 corporations like Amazon, Netflix, and Nike.
Liu said Airtable has public company aspirations.
“We still have strong fundamentals,” Liu said. “In fact, we’re doing this because we have the conviction to set a path to a winning outcome–to be a really strong independent company.”
Airtable’s layoffs are a sign that the company is shifting its focus to large enterprise clients. This is a wise move, as large enterprise clients are more likely to have the budget and resources to invest in Airtable’s platform. Additionally, large enterprise clients are more likely to be loyal customers, as they are less likely to switch to a competitor.
Airtable’s layoffs are also a sign that the tech sector is cooling off. After years of rapid growth, many tech companies are now facing challenges such as rising interest rates, inflation, and the war in Ukraine. As a result, many tech companies are laying off employees and cutting costs.
Despite the layoffs, Airtable remains a strong company with a bright future. The company has a large and growing customer base, and its platform is well-suited for the needs of large enterprise clients.