TechCrunch has verified and confirmed that VerSe Innovation, the $5 billion Indian startup that created the news aggregator Dailyhunt, the short-video platform Josh, and the hyperlocal video tool PublicVibe, has laid off 150 employees, or 5% of its 3,000-person workforce.
People with knowledge of the situation told TechCrunch that the Bengaluru-based business informed affected employees on Friday and separately convened a town hall meeting on Monday where it disclosed salary cutbacks to its remaining staff.
It’s a significant move for VerSe Innovation, which is supported by companies like Google and Microsoft and just raised more than $800 million in new capital. The change illustrates how severely the advertising market has tanked, how it is affecting well-known consumer businesses that depend on it, and how it is even affecting some of the digital markets that are expanding the quickest, like India.
“Like other businesses, we’ve reviewed our strategic priorities in light of the current economic situation. Umang Bedi, co-founder of VerSe Innovation, responded in advance to questions that were originally submitted on Saturday by saying, “We have taken steps to implement our regular bi-annual performance management cycle and made performance and business considerations to streamline our costs and our teams.
He also affirmed that all remaining staff with incomes over $12,200 (10 lakh Indian rupees) annually had their pay reduced by 11%.
In order to promote profitable growth, he remarked, “We remain steadfastly committed and bullish throughout our whole family of apps, Josh, Dailyhunt, and PublicVibe.”
In a Series J round headed by CPP Investments, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, Luxor Capital, Sumeru Ventures, Sofina Group, and Baillie Gifford in April, VerSe Innovation raised $805 million at a valuation of about $5 billion.
When TikTok was banned in India in the middle of 2020, the startup claimed that 50 million producers had downloaded its Josh app, one of the regional alternatives. Similar to Dailyhunt, PublicVibe increased its user base to more than 5 million monthly active users while also surpassing the milestone of 350 million people for its creator ecosystem.
Nevertheless, VerSe Innovation’s losses were not reduced by this increase.
According to the startup’s regulatory papers, which Entrackr obtained, its losses increased by almost 217% in the fiscal year 2021–2022 to $314 million (2,563 crores Indian rupees) from $99 million (808 crores Indian rupees) the year prior. However, it appears that from $82 million to $118 million (965 crores Indian rupees), its operating revenue climbed by around 45%. (666 crores Indian rupees).
Due to continuous economic uncertainty, VerSe Innovation has become the most recent Indian firm to reduce its personnel. Numerous companies, including Byju’s, Unacademy, and Chargebee, have let go of hundreds of workers during the past few months.