Roku fires 200 employees for the second time in five months

Roku

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In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday, the San Jose-based company announced the 200-person layoff round and stated that it will also leave or sublease unoccupied office facilities. According to the filing, the move will cost Roku $30 million to $35 million in severance and notice pay, benefits, and office costs. The layoffs affect 6% of Roku’s workforce.

According to a company spokesperson, this round of cost-cutting is an attempt to slow operating expense growth by focusing on “lower-priority programs and initiatives.” The company cited similar reasons for its November layoffs, which also affected 200 employees.

Roku, which spun off from Netflix in 2008, popularized the now-ubiquitous streaming devices that connect to televisions. After years of simply partnering with streamers, Roku launched its own channel in 2017 — a free, ad-supported place for Roku users to watch TV and movies.

Recently, the company has focused on producing its own video content, such as “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” (a biopic starring Daniel Radcliffe) and Kevin Hart’s action comedy show “Die Hart.” According to the New York Times, the company’s annual content budget is now around $1 billion.

Roku had 70 million active accounts by the end of 2022, but the future looked bleak. Profit stagnated last year as costs rose, and the company now plans to meet its profitability target in 2024. Roku’s stock price, like that of other tech and media companies, peaked during the pandemic’s digital advertising boom but has since plummeted.

The New York Times reported last summer that Roku was assuring investors that it would not lay off employees as it dealt with the advertising slowdown.

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