Crackle let go of eight of its 60 employees today after “making some changes across the board,” according to Jonathan Shambroom, the video site’s general manager, who wanted to make sure we knew that the company is still growing its revenue, content library, and even its staff.
The layoffs were not from any specific department, and Shambroom said the order to make the changes did not come from Sony (Crackle’s parent company). The timing of the layoffs was not tied to any particular event, either. “There was nothing magical about today,” said Shambroom. When asked if other layoffs are in the works, Shambroom said “Absolutely not.”
Despite laying off 13 percent of its staff, Shambroom insisted that by all accounts, the company is strong. He said that the WGA strike helped deliver its biggest audience yet, a claim backed up by a quick look at stats on Compete.
Shambroom also said that the site is signing bigger advertisers as a result of its switch from UGC to editorially-curated content, and while he wouldn’t get specific, he said Crackle has enjoyed month-over-month revenue growth.
Of course, Shambroom was doing what any good company spokesperson does by putting a positive spin on recent events. But a look at the traffic numbers for some of its shows paints a different picture. Of the “Top Shows on Crackle,” only Mr. Deity and The Sands of Passion surpass 100,000 views with any regularity, if at all. The rest remain if the tens of thousands of plays, or just hundreds of plays, even though they’ve been up for months.
Update: After this post went up, I got a note from Crackle’s PR team saying that they couldn’t give me comScore numbers because they don’t take into consideration Crackle’s syndication network. They did provide the following data from Accustream’s User Generated Video 2005 – 2008: Mania Meets Mainstream report:
Crackle.com was the market leader in generating views per video at 216,596, accomplished by emphasizing professional content
Update 2 (Thursday): Turns out there was more to the Crackle layoff story we reported yesterday. Jonathan Shambroom is now heading up the company and was promoted to senior vice president and general manager.
Former co-presidents and Grouper (which became Crackle) co-founders Josh Felser and Dave Samuel are out, though the duo have not officially left the company. According to a Crackle spokesperson, Felser and Samuel will continue to “provide overall strategic guidance in an advisory capacity.” You don’t need a corporate-speak translator to decode that one. Felser and Samuel are still employees of Crackle but their new titles were not provided. Crackle would not comment on the impact of litigation (it was sued by UMG in 2006 after being bought).
During a conversation with Shambroom yesterday, he kept emphasizing that this was all part of a natural progression as the company grows, which rings a little hollow when you lay off 13 percent of your staff and change leadership.