smart newsis a news aggregation website and app headquartered in Tokyo. $2 billion by 2021today announced a 40% cut in its U.S. and Chinese workforce, or about 120, according to sources familiar with the company’s plans. The news was announced on Thursday at his All Hands meeting attended by staff from SmartNews. The company confirmed the layoffs to TechCrunch, saying it was due to “current economic conditions.”
Roles impacted in the US and China include engineering, product, and data science. Meanwhile, his SmartNews employees in Japan will soon undergo a “voluntary retirement program,” though no details have yet been provided on what that entails. Dismissed employees are provided with a standard retirement package and benefits. At the meeting, employees were told they would receive an email within 15 minutes if they were laid off.
In total, SmartNews employs nearly 900 people, including contract workers, one-third of whom work outside of Japan.
A source told TechCrunch that the company chose to close its U.S. offices for two days, Thursday and Friday, without giving a reason.
“This is not your fault. We’re sorry you’re gone,” SmartNews CEO Ken Suzuki said in the announcement.
After the announcement, the meeting ended quickly with no time for questions and answers, frustrating some staff.
Founded in Japan in 2012, the company arrived in the United States in 2014, Grow your local news footprint Covering thousands of US cities in early 2020. With over 3,000 global publishing partners, their content is available through her web and mobile services on his devices.
In that market, the app has grown to be the top news aggregator due to how it uses machine learning technology to personalize the reader’s experience by choosing which articles to display. In the US, we differentiated ourselves with the “News From All Sides” feature, which allows users to access news from different political perspectives. Additionally, during high-profile events such as the Covid-19 pandemic or the US elections, SmartNews provides in-app dashboards that let you see important information at a glance.
Since its inception in 2012, the company has managed to attract investors and raise over $400 million despite stiff competition from built-in aggregators such as Apple News and Google News on iOS and Android. In its latest Series F funding round, investors poured his $230 million into the business, valuing the company as a “double unicorn” ($2 billion), the company’s press release said. says.new Investor These include US-based Princeville Capital and Woodline Partners, as well as JIC Venture Growth Investments, Green Co-Invest Investments, and Japan’s Yamauchi No. 10 Family Office. Existing backers, his ACA Investments and SMBC Venture Capital, also joined.
The SmartNews app has 30 million monthly active users worldwide, 20 million in Japan and 10 million in the US. However, sources say these numbers are trending down by about 10-20% in both markets. Sensor Tower estimates that SmartNews has been installed nearly 81 million times worldwide from the App Store and Google Play since January 2014. As of 2022, Japan (58%) and the United States (38%) will be the largest markets for downloads, according to Sensor Tower.
Unfortunately, SmartNews has been hit by the same macroeconomic factors that have led to many tech industry layoffs in recent months, in addition to the complications created by Apple’s implementation. App Tracking Transparencyor ATT. New iOS privacy measures introduced in 2021 have hit companies whose business model relies on advertising. Including Meta and Snapin the meantime boosting Apple’s own advertising business.
The company could have gone public in 2019, but management asked for additional funding and a higher valuation. Now that opportunity may be lost.
SmartNews, reached out for comment, confirmed the layoffs and provided the following statement:
Unfortunately, there is no escape from the current economic climate that is hurting so many businesses. In order to maintain our company’s health and secure our future growth, we have decided to implement a restructuring that has impacted many great employees. This was a last resort for us. We hope that the severance package and career transition management services offered to affected employees will help them in their search for a new role.