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Uber lays off 400, a third of its marketing team

The cuts are taking place at Uber offices around the world as profitability doubts linger after Uber's IPO; Uber's global marketing team is about 1,200

By Kate Conger
Published: Jul 30, 2019


Uber lays off 400, a third of its marketing teamUber's headquarters in San Francisco, June 28, 2019. Uber said it laid off around 400 people worldwide from its marketing team on July 29. (Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times)

SAN FRANCISCO — Uber said it laid off a third of its marketing team Monday, or about 400 people, as the ride-hailing company tries to cut costs and streamline its operations after its initial public offering in May.

The cuts, which were also announced internally Monday, are taking place in multiple Uber offices around the world, the company said. The marketing team had more than 1,200 people before the layoffs. Uber employs almost 25,000 people globally, nearly half of whom are based in the United States, according to recent regulatory filings.

Uber declined to comment further.

The layoffs are the latest shake-up at Uber since it went public two months ago. During its journey to the public markets, the company, which is unprofitable, faced numerous questions from Wall Street about whether it could make money. Ride-hailing is an expensive business, with providers often spending huge sums to recruit drivers and subsidize trips. Those doubts ultimately took a toll on Uber’s IPO, with the company’s stock falling 7.6% on its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Since then, Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive, has moved to make changes at the company. In June, he pushed out two members of his executive team: Barney Harford, the chief operating officer, and Rebecca Messina, the chief marketing officer. Messina’s role was eliminated, and the marketing team was reorganized under Uber’s communications lead, Jill Hazelbaker.

In addition, Uber’s board has been undergoing turnover. Ryan Graves, Uber’s first employee and a director, stepped down from the board in May. Last week, two more board members — Arianna Huffington, founder of Thrive Global; and Matt Cohler, a venture capitalist at Benchmark — stepped down from their positions. Both Huffington and Cohler had been heavily involved in the departure of Khosrowshahi’s predecessor, Travis Kalanick, from Uber in 2017.

In a statement last week, Huffington said she had stepped down to focus on the growth of her own company. Cohler said in a statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that he was “thrilled with the company’s position.” Uber has not announced their replacements.

The company faces another test Aug. 8, when it is scheduled to report its second-quarter earnings. When Uber reported its first-quarter results, it posted its slowest growth in years and a loss of more than $1 billion.

In an email Monday to Uber’s marketing staff, which was reviewed by The New York Times, Hazelbaker said the 400 layoffs were taking place because the team had grown bloated and decision-making was unclear. The marketing team’s organizational charts ran to more than 388 pages, she said.

Hazelbaker added that she planned to consolidate Uber’s regional marketing teams around the world, including in the United States and Canada, Latin America and the Middle East. The marketing team oversees ride promotions, advertising campaigns and social media.

“These changes are incredibly difficult to make because they have a huge impact on people’s lives,” Khosrowshahi wrote in an email to Uber employees. “Many of our teams are too big, which creates overlapping work, makes for unclear decision owners and can lead to mediocre results. As a company, we can do more to keep the bar high, and expect more of ourselves and each other. So, put simply, we need to get our edge back.”

©2019 New York Times News Service

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