San Francisco tech startup Airtable is undergoing its second round of layoffs in a year, affecting more than 230 employees. The company, which reached an $11 billion valuation in 2021, previously laid off 254 workers in December 2021.
This latest round of layoffs will impact 27% of Airtable’s workforce and is described as “company-wide,” affecting offices in various locations, including San Francisco, Mountain View, Austin, Los Angeles, New York, and London.
Airtable is known for its productivity software and initially gained popularity for its spreadsheet-database hybrid tools. It expanded its offerings to include customizable applications for various team functions, such as marketing, sales, human resources, finance, operations, and product development.
Despite achieving “unicorn” status with a valuation exceeding $1 billion in 2018, the company continued to raise funds, securing $735 million at an $11 billion valuation in December 2021.
CEO Howie Liu acknowledged that the layoffs were necessary for the company’s long-term success. He stated in a note to employees that he takes full responsibility for the decision and expressed empathy for the impact on individual employees. The laid-off workers will receive at least 16 weeks of severance pay, six months of healthcare premiums, and some stock benefits.
Liu admitted that Airtable had been caught up in the hiring frenzy prevalent in the tech industry. He mentioned that the company’s approach was to recruit talented individuals and immerse them in the business to see what they could achieve.
While Liu expressed regret over the layoffs, he defended them as essential for the company’s future, noting that not taking action would have worsened its prospects. He also emphasized that Airtable, as a cash flow positive business with a significant capital reserve, would now have the flexibility to invest in new areas and hire accordingly.
The layoffs at Airtable reflect the challenges faced by tech companies, even those with substantial valuations, in a competitive and evolving industry. Achieving high valuations and rapid growth can sometimes lead to staffing challenges and the need for strategic adjustments to ensure long-term sustainability.