Spot Runner Laying off 115 People; Looking For Strategic Options For Local Search Group

imageSpotRunner, the heavily backed online and TV ad agency based in Los Angeles, is laying off about 115 people from its company, which is 30 percent of staff, we have learned and confirmed by the company. Rumors to this effect started circulating last week, but no decision was made until the internal announcement today. The company CEO Nick Grouf told me that the company is still in a strong financial position, with significant cash in the bank. It raised a big $51 million fourth round earlier in the summer from an international group of investors include UK media group Daily Mail (LSE: DMGT) and General Trust, Spanish-speaking media giant Grupo Televisa, hedge fund Legg Mason Capital Management and French luxury group Groupe Arnault/LVMH.

Also, the company is closing down its looking at various strategic options for the local search division, Grouf told me, where most of these layoffs are coming from. (CORRECTION: It is NOT closing down the division, as I mistakenly wrote earlier). SpotRunner diversified into local search early this year when it bought Weblistic, a provider of online marketing service for small businesses. The rest of the company is being consolidated in LA.

The market condition forced the company to take this drastic step, Grouf said. Some would say it has to do more with how fast the company tried to expand, moving from being an online TV-ad distribution provider to being a broader video AND text advertising providers across various platforms. But Grouf says the company will continue to focus on video advertising in a broad way: TV, telco and online video ad inventory.

This comes soon after the company laid off about 50 people earlier in August, but has been hiring for more positions since then. Also, veteran online ad exec Joanne Bradford left the company for *Yahoo* in September, after having joined it from MSFT only six months earlier.

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