MessageBird lays off 31% Workforce

MessageBird – Amsterdam-based enterprise cloud communications platform has undergone restructuring in the organization, resulting in laying off 31% of its overall workforce.

Though the company hasn’t shared the exact count of impacted employees – We can guess that the layoffs have struck close to 185 employees. Based on the headcount mentioned on the company’s official LinkedIn page as of this article.

CEO Robert Vis’ announced this move as “the hardest shift we have had to make in the history of MessageBird.”

In the statement, he mentions that the company is well-positioned to overcome the fast-changing macroeconomic scenario.

“MessageBird is fundamentally well-positioned to overcome economic headwinds and our products and tools are purposefully designed to help customers build economies of scale, especially during these tough economic times. High quality at a lower cost for our customers has made us win in the past and will enable us to win in the future.”

Here is a full statement from the blog post – Source

CEO Robert Vis’ email to MessageBird employees

Today we’re announcing the hardest shift we have had to make in the history of MessageBird. We’re reducing the size of our team overall by around 31% (including the announcement on Oct 31), saying goodbye to many talented Birds. If you are part of the Birds being impacted you will receive a notification within 15 minutes to your MessageBird and private email. 

For those of you leaving: I’m very sorry to be taking this step and I take full responsibility for the decisions leading up to it. I hope that the clarity in this note will show you my full ownership for this decision and the path forward.

There are more details later in this note on how we are approaching departures, but first, I want to share some broader context.

The broader context

We have seen a significant shift over the past months in the global economy resulting in rising inflation, rising interest rates and a change in the way businesses are valued. We live in unprecedented times and I am convinced that 2023 will see most of the global economy falling into recession. We bootstrapped MessageBird profitably for the first 6 years, spent the next 5 years investing and made the company profitable again late 2021. While we continue to operate profitably in 2022 and sustain our growth rates ahead of our peers, unfortunately we still need to take more drastic measures for the health of our business and to continue to support and prepare our customers and our stakeholders from what is about to come. 

To be clear, as much as I believe this to be necessary it is not a reflection of me not caring for those we are asking to leave – this day leaves a scar on my soul. MessageBird is my legacy, the company I give my everything for every single day and would sacrifice almost anything for. The decision today is more painful for the Birds leaving than it will be for me and I won’t pretend I understand what they will go through. I alone made the mistakes leading up to this and I should have seen it coming earlier. We grew our headcount too fast and did not integrate our acquisitions at the speed needed so that we would not find ourselves having to make today’s announcement. I’m sorry for what this decision might mean for our Birds that are leaving and will give my best for our Birds remaining so that this will not happen again. 

Speed matters

In business speed matters, MessageBird has always been a fast paced company and some thrive in such an environment while others find it unreasonable. Building a business requires hard work and tenacity. Our employee experience should be strongly centred around the impact we all have on our customers’ experience. A business is built through continuous rigour, hard work and having the flexibility to adapt to changes as new data presents itself. This is how we bootstrapped MessageBird and built it up in the first few years, and also how we will continue to scale our business going forward.

MessageBird is fundamentally well-positioned to overcome economic headwinds and our products and tools are purposefully designed to help customers build economies of scale, especially during these tough economic times. High quality at a lower cost for our customers has made us win in the past and will enable us to win in the future.

We are making this decision as a way to go back to our roots, a time where we bootstrapped and operated at the highest financial and operational rigour. Our customers and shareholders (including you) deserve products and services at the best price point that provide a best-in-class return on investment. We have always been proud of being an efficient business and we are convinced that this is the only way to grow long term and ultimately win in a healthy, sustainable manner.

To our departing Birds;

Around 31% of people at MessageBird will have left the company by the end of this year, compared to our headcount numbers in October of this year. As I said before, I take full responsibility for this decision. It is incredibly painful to realise that we could not live up to our expectations of providing a successful long-term career in the nest to those now impacted.

It will never feel good to part ways but we will do our best to treat everyone leaving with respect and seek ways to support them in such a difficult situation. A few core elements include: 

  • Settlement. We will pay 3 months of compensation for all departing employees, and more for those with longer tenure. More details will be provided shortly in the individual documents. The structure of the severance pay is dependent upon local legislation respectively.
  • Termination date. As of today, you will be on garden leave until the termination date. We will respect the mandatory notice period as a baseline to determine the individual termination dates for departing birds. 
  • Bonus. We will pay a prorated bonus to all eligible departing employees, considering their individual departure dates.  
  • PTO. We’ll pay for all unused pro-rated PTO time.
  • Other benefits. The individual message will also contain additional details on the respective benefits continuation for you individually.
  • Individual & career support. We’ll do our best to connect departing employees with other companies and professional networks as well as other useful sources that may help you navigate through this difficult time. More information will be provided by the People Team as well as the respective manager who will be in touch shortly.
  • Immigration support. We know that this situation is particularly tough for departing employees who currently work on a visa. We have made individual arrangements for you in order to accommodate better for your particular situation. Details will be outlined in individual documentation.

How we’re handling departures

Birds that are leaving will receive a notification email to both their MessageBird as well as their personal email address within the next 15 minutes. A manager will reach out to every departing Bird over the course of the next day for a 1:1 conversation. Look out for an invite coming to your personal email address.

Please know that this is definitely not a decision I imagined we would make when we hired you. We know that you would have continued to contribute in an amazing way under different circumstances. We care about you as former colleagues and birds in our extended nest, appreciating everything you’ve done for the company.  We would like to encourage you to stay connected with us so we can share updates and also contact you in the future should an opportunity to return to MessageBird arise and encourage you to join our alumni community. We also encourage companies who are looking for amazing talent to consider our departing Birds; they will thrive in any fast-paced, high growth environment.

I wish you all the very best for a healthy and successful future; we will always be grateful for what you have done for the company!

To those who remain;

I know that this is also a difficult situation for you as you see members of the team leaving. Your manager and all s-team members will be available to you in case you need individual support. I know there will be questions over the next week as we go through a lot of change in different parts of the organisation. We ask for your patience and support in helping us navigate through the next few days as we continue to run the business as well as say good-bye to fellow Birds. On Thursday, let’s talk about how we will reset, reorganise and move forward during our All-Hands.

We will use the next couple of days to meet with you all to answer additional questions but also give more tangible insights into our path forward, the way we will organise ourselves and how we envision everyone collaborating in the future. Please also huddle as teams and find the strength to get through this difficult time together. We obviously count on you to drive the business forward with us, help us stay laser focused on our priorities and build efficiencies to further increase the value of the company and thus all of your equity value. 

Our path forward;

Today is the beginning of a journey that unfortunately started with a very painful decision and message to you all. I recognize it will take some time to regain your trust in me as the CEO, in my leadership team, and the company altogether. I fully take ownership and will do my best to win back your trust and confidence in me and us as MessageBird. I am more convinced than ever that going back to our roots is the key to our success and symbolises the beginning of a successful journey that goes beyond everything we expected to achieve when I founded the company in 2011. 

The data we see is consistent with this encouraging outlook as we surpassed $600m run rate revenue with organic growth well above our peers and during Black Friday processed a whopping 254 million emails every hour and 3.3 billion during the day. Our company is vertically integrated to address every touch point of the customer journey and be in full control of our customers’ experience with us. 

You joined MessageBird because you are excited about the opportunities we have to help our customers make communicating with a business as easy as talking to a friend. In times of uncertainty around us, our customers are looking for even more scalable and flexible ways of communicating, hence our unique opportunity to support them through new products and innovations.

Today is a sad day for all of us as we say goodbye to a number of talented Birds. In the next couple of days, we’ll do our best to support those who are leaving the company. Next week we will reset and move forward. While the changes today are painful, I know it is the right thing to do to keep MessageBird’s position strong and use the global headwinds for those around us to our advantage and to master the future.

Best from Amsterdam, 

– Robert

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