Slide Lays Off Sales Staff To ‘Refocus’ On Bigger Ad Deals

It was almost inevitable. This time last year widget-maker (because that’s what they were called, then) Slide was sitting on $50 million worth of new funding from Fidelity and T-Rowe Price. Now, the S.F.-based startup is slashing its sales force, GigaOm reports, in what CEO Max Levchin says is a push to focus on ad deals with bigger brands (and more money). He said Slide would be hiring more business development types to help broker the better deals, while other sales staff would be reassigned — not laid off. We’ve tried to confirm the number of layoffs, and will update accordingly. Update: Slide has confirmed the layoffs, which the company said was in the single digits.

All the positive spin can’t cover up the fact that running ad-supported widgets or apps — which are separate from more “active” applications, like social games or virtual gift shops — is no longer a sustainable option for the dozens of widget and app startups that flourished over the past two years. With advertisers scrutinizing the kinds of social media campaigns they run, and the oversupply of inventory keeping CPM rates down, there’s just not enough money to go around. (Norwest Venture Partners Tim Chang all but predicted it in an interview with us earlier this year).

Still, Levchin told GigaOm that the shift to “higher-end campaigns” in the $500,000 range was a more viable strategy than trying to generate a high volume of smaller, less-lucrative deals, and Slide has had success with brokering deals with big brands like Paramount and *Discovery Networks* in the past. (Katalyst, the content development studio founded by Ashton Kutcher, also chose to use Slide’s widgets to launch his Cheetos-sponsored web series, KatalystHQ on Facebook).