The b5media Job Cuts Memo

As reported Friday, blogging network b5media made a range of cuts to better position itself given the hard economic times.

This is a copy of the memo sent out to all staff detailing the changes.

As I’m sure you are all aware, the recent changes in the economy have forced many companies to make fundamental changes. While, thankfully, b5, our investors and our team saw a shakeup coming in early 2008, so we didn’t expand as aggressively as we would have otherwise, the current environment is one that we believe will continue through most (or all) of 2009 and, as a result we have set our main 2009 goal as a very simple one: get the company profitable so that we (with you) can continue providing great content for an incredibly diverse audience of more than ten million people around the world.

As part of driving towards profitability, the second half of 2008 was focused very much on balancing the need to grow with the need to bring costs down from a “growth focused” level to a “survive the worst economy in recent memory level”. As part of that, we rebalanced blogger pay, trimmed our conference and travel budgets, trimmed technical costs such as servers,
froze hiring and a number of other things. In spite of a smaller team than intended and smaller budgets, we still managed to test a lot of new programs including ad networks, portals, a new application infrastructure and pursuing entirely new revenue opportunities such as affiliate programs on product reviews.

However while we’ve cut many operational costs, capital costs and started growing entirely new revenue streams, we still needed to balance our staffing needs, specifically in areas where we had either hired for growth or where we were getting softer and less revenue-focused benefits. As part of that evaluation of human costs, we cut our advisory board, cancelled bonuses, cancelled hires, moved existing team into new positions (and didn’t fill their old positions), etc.

Sadly, during this process, several of b5media’s full-time team members were let go. Each of these, including Joey DeVilla, Darren O’Donoghue and Tony Tramontana, were significant parts of b5media and added very real value – however when faced with a choice between working with these amazing people and ensuring the company and community survived we were forced, given the current climate, to let these people go. It goes without saying that we did everything we could to ensure each individual was treated more than fairly.

In addition, however, budgetary restrictions around the Content team forced one further cut, and it is undoubtedly one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do: ending Shai’s employment relationship with b5media.

As you undoubtedly know Shai came on as a “founder”, after her AboutWeblogs network agreed to merge with b5media just weeks after we’d launched. And ever since she has been a vibrant and heartening part of the b5media management, staff and community. The decision obviously does not reflect poorly on Shai, as she is one of the warmest, hardest working people I have ever had the honour of working with.

Ensuring b5media gets to profitability must be the focus of the business, which is why we have trimmed these costs, refocused our strategy and why we are evaluating a whole suite of revenue opportunities. While decisions are clearly incredibly hard and saddening and we wish we didn’t have to make them, we remain excited by the community and company that you have helped us build, by the potential of the business and its vision and by our team (that’s you!).

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Shai or any of the other amazing individuals who have recently left b5. They deserve every bit of thanks, encouragement and support that can be mustered and we wouldn’t be where we are without them.

Jeremy Wright

Disclosure: The Editor of this site is a former employee of b5media.