BuzzFeed staffers chewed out CEO Jonah Peretti on the day that the company began laying off 15% of its staff.
On Friday, BuzzFeed News laid off 43 staffers, including much of its national security and entertainment teams. In the company’s internal Slack chatroom, staffers peppered Peretti with questions about the bloodbath.
In an apparent effort to comfort colleagues, Peretti said it was a “good idea” to allow employees to bring dogs to the office on Monday. One staffer shot back: “What if instead of letting people bring in dogs we paid out peoples’ PTO in all states, not just California?” The response garnered more than a hundred likes and upvotes.
A number of current and recently laid off employees ripped into the company’s decision to spread the layoffs across multiple days, and announcing the cuts to the media around the same time the company announced them to staffers. The company had planned to announce layoffs next week, but media reports had prompted BuzzFeed News to move layoffs to Friday.
“I strongly suggest you receive some outside training on how to conduct this,” one staffer told Peretti in Slack. “It is dire to watch this occur and it is dire to observe the same mistakes over and over.”
“This is the second time in less than six months that such mass layoffs have been leaked and subsequent management of said leaks and their fallout have been inadequate, bordering on cruel,” another staffer commented. (A BuzzFeed spokesperson told The Daily Beast it only fired three people six months ago.)
“After hearing ‘It was never our intention to manage communications around layoffs this way’ several times through this Slack and other generic messages, I’m kind of curious now—What was the plan to respectfully let go some of the most talented smart hard working journalists producers writers and creatives in the industry?” another employee asked.
Some reporters lamented how the layoffs could hinder recruiting future staff.
“If the company is to exist after all of this, how does it plan to recruit? Who would take the risk of joining a company that has handled some of the most talented, innovative, and creative people in such a way?” the staffer said.
But after Splinter published an article with some leaked internal BuzzFeed Slack messages, several employees also urged colleagues not to leak.
“What a curious way to respect a really hard day for people,” one employee remarked.
Earlier this week, BuzzFeed News said it was cutting staff to maintain financial stability and achieve profitability in the near future. But the cuts came after months in which the company had conversations about mergers with several other media companies, according to The New York Times.
In a separate Slack, editor in chief Ben Smith did not explicitly deny reports that the organization was in talks to merge with Group 9, the parent company of several other digital media organizations.
“Our need to make more money than we spend isn’t connected to merger speculation. It’s about being a strong independent company,” Smith said.
The layoffs in BuzzFeed’s newsroom came the same week that massive staff cuts were announced at HuffPost and Gannett, the newspaper conglomerate.