India’s Verse Creative — the $5 billion Indian startup behind news aggregator DailyHunt, short video platform Josh and hyperlocal video app PublicVibe — has cut 150 employees, or 5% of its 3,000-strong workforce, TechCrunch has learned and confirmed.
The Bengaluru-based startup notified affected employees on Friday and held a town hall meeting on Monday to announce pay cuts for its remaining employees, people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.
VerSe Innovation, which is backed by the likes of Google and Microsoft and has raised more than $800 million in fresh funding, is a big turn. He talks about how far the bottom line of the advertising market has fallen under the shift, how that will affect high-profile consumer businesses that rely on it, and how that will extend to fast-growing digital markets like India.
“Given the current economic climate, like any other business, we have reassessed our strategic priorities. With the long-term viability of the business and our people in mind, we have taken steps to implement our standard two-year performance management cycle and have taken performance and business considerations to streamline our costs and our teams. VerSe Innovation, in a statement prepared in response to questions sent earlier Saturday.
It also confirmed the initiation of an 11% pay cut for the remaining employees earning more than $12,200 (10,000 Indian Rupees) per annum.
“We are extremely committed and energetic across our family — Josh, DailyHunt and PublicVB — to drive profitable growth,” he said.
In April, VerSe Innovation raised $805 million in a Series J round led by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments), at a valuation of nearly $5 billion. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (Ontario Teachers), Luxor Capital, Sumeru Ventures, Sofina Group and Bailey Gifford.
The startup said at the time that Josh’s app — one of the local alternatives to TikTok, which India banned in mid-2020 — reached more than 150 million users, including 50 million creators. Similarly, Dailyhunt grew its creator ecosystem to over 100,000 content partners and crossed the 350 million user mark, while PublicVibe grew its user base to over 5 million monthly active users.
However, that growth did not help VerSe Innovation recoup its losses.
In its regulatory filings reported by Intracraker, the startup’s net loss for the fiscal year 2021-22 widened over 217% to $314 million (2,563 crore Indian rupees) from $99 million (808 crore Indian rupees). However, operating income increased 45% to $118 million (965 crores) from $82 million (666 crores Indian rupees).
VerSe Innovation has become the latest Indian startup to cut its workforce due to ongoing economic uncertainty. In the past two months, Baiju, Akademi and Chargebe, among others, have laid off hundreds of workers.