SF tech startup Airtable lays off hundreds for second time in year

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Airtable, which just announced a 27% layoff round, is headquartered on the 8th floor of 799 Market Street in downtown San Francisco.

Airtable, which just announced a 27% layoff round, is headquartered on the 8th floor of 799 Market Street in downtown San Francisco.

Courtesy of Google Streetview

The decade-old company, which rode pandemic-era interest in easy software coding to an $11 billion valuation in 2021, announced the 237-worker cut in a published note from CEO Howie Liu on Friday. The firm also laid off 254 workers last December, amid wider industry layoffs and a company pivot toward larger customers. 

The new layoff round will leave 27% of Airtable’s employees out of work, company spokesperson Matt Steinfeld wrote in an email to SFGATE. He added that the job cuts were “company-wide” and across the firm’s offices in downtown San Francisco, Mountain View, Austin, Los Angeles, New York and London.

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“Although this is the right decision for the business long-term, it doesn’t diminish the impact this has on an individual level,” Liu wrote in the note to employees. “This was a difficult decision that I did not make lightly, and I take full responsibility.”

Laid-off workers will receive at least 16 weeks of severance pay and six months of health care premiums, Liu wrote, along with some stock benefits.

Airtable is a productivity software company. It began by building spreadsheet-database hybrids and expanded to a wide range of offerings for the online working world. The firm now sells customizable applications for teams working on marketing, sales, human resources, finance, operations and products.

The company achieved the sought-after “unicorn” status — a $1 billion-plus valuation — in 2018, and money continued to pour in through the pandemic with startup-friendly investors and excitement about remote work products. In December 2021, Airtable raised $735 million at an $11 billion valuation.

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But the firm was caught up in the industry’s wider hiring frenzy, Liu told Forbes last week. “I let myself get caught in the hyper-competitive environment at that time,” Liu said, adding that Airtable tended to recruit “as many smart people as we can and just throw them into the business and see what they can do.”

Admitting that it was his decision-making that brought Airtable to the layoffs, Liu told Forbes that he’s left with a “sickening feeling.” Still, he defended the cuts, reportedly saying that not laying off workers now would make things worse for the future of the firm.

His note to employees also painted the job cuts as a necessary step, though it included an unusually upbeat message for an email announcing 237 layoffs: “As a cash flow positive business with a large capital reserve, we’ll now have the ability to invest and hire in new areas.”

Hear of anything happening at Airtable or another tech company? Contact tech reporter Stephen Council securely at [email protected] or on Signal at 628-204-5452.

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