Text message marketing startup Voyage SMS has laid off more than 10% of its staff, including its chief operating officer, dot.LA has learned—as the Santa Monica-based company became the latest local venture to fall victim to worsening economic conditions.
Voyage cut eight people from its roughly 60-person workforce last week, co-founder and CEO Rev Reddy confirmed to dot.LA. Besides COO Dave Link, the cuts affected the company’s full-time sales department and some contractors, he said.
“It’s unfortunate to let people go—it’s never a fun thing,” Reddy said. “This is a multi-factor decision, but of course the macro[economic] climate affected [and] was an input in this decision.”
Reddy added that the company hopes the downsizing will be temporary and that Voyage plans to eventually hire more staff, specifically people in the Los Angeles area who have expertise in digital marketing. “We are prioritizing growth efficiency over growth at all costs,” he said.
The ongoing economic downturn has not spared the tech and venture capital sectors, spooking investors into pulling back funding and prompting a wave of layoffs across the industry. It’s a sudden change of winds of Voyage, which earlier this year raised a $10 million funding round and acquired rival SMS marketing startup LiveRecover. Voyage’s text-based marketing strategy is plugged into ecommerce platforms such as Shopify and ZenDesk—but as consumers have cut their discretionary spending to cope with rising inflation, they’re spending less on ecommerce, indirectly hindering Voyage’s business.
Link, Voyage’s outgoing COO, previously worked for LiveRecover and joined the company in February after the acquisition.
“Technically, [Link] wasn’t even an employee—it was a trial,” Reddy noted. “The title was internal and it was very much contingent upon execution of results. And candidly speaking, those results were just not hit.”
Link could not immediately be reached for comment. Other former Voyage employees confirmed on LinkedIn that they were laid off and looking for new work.
While Voyage is not yet profitable, Reddy said he believes the company is on a “path to profitability in a reasonable timeframe.” Still, he acknowledged that the startup’s backers—which include former Airbnb executive James Beshara and venture firms RiverPark and Guild Capital—will be eager to see progress if Voyage is to “attract the capital we need” moving forward.
“Limited partners now look at their portfolio and their allocations, and since the public markets have dropped so much, they look overweight in venture,” York IE managing partner Joe Raczka, whose New Hampshire-based investment firm is among Voyage’s investors, told dot.LA. “So they course-correct a little bit in terms of where their allocations are going, so you see some hesitancy.”
York IE Managing Partner Joe Raczka.Credit: York IE
Still, Raczka said York IE plans to stick with Voyage. “I think the company has a massive market that they play in [and] they have a really strong product,” he said. “I remain very confident in the business.”