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Refinery29 cuts staff by 10%: outlines evergreen, premium video strategy

By John McCarthy | Media editor

Refinery29

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October 23, 2018 | 4 min read

Refinery29 has cut 10% of its workforce after its annual revenue fell 5% short. It has outlined a new video, tech and sales strategies to ensure no further financial shortcomings.

An internal email co-penned by company co-founders Philippe von Borries and Justin Stefano outlined the need for the business to change, in particular announcing “the very difficult decision to part ways with members of the R29 team”.

Refinery29

Refinery29 cuts staff by 10%

After cutting 34 staff members in December 2017, almost a year later it has parted with 40 staff (10% of its workforce).

The pair said that while 2018 revenue showed year-over-year growth, it still fell 5% short of their goal. The lion's share of cuts were made in the “video and product and engineering” departments.

In particular, the female-facing publisher outlined a video focus on premium evergreen content rather than material with “short shelf life,” even if it has “been driving views, it has not yielded a great monetization strategy to justify the same level of continued investment”. This shift may be of particular interest to social video publishers reliant on quantity over quality.

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It will also reorginaise its editorial workflow and embrace a third-party CMS to drive savings. Furthermore, disparate ad sales teams will be unified into a customer solutions group.

The email read: “We have evaluated how our commercial team is organized and how we can work smarter and more proactively to deliver strong marketing solutions. This will involve key changes in the people, processes and products of our revenue teams, including the creation of a unified customer solutions group and a sales planning and operations group.”

It said the company will be “working with departing staffers to provide support as they explore their next career move”, in particular working with partners, investors and its network to redistribute the staff.

They concluded: “The strength of our brand, the creativity and innovation of this team, along with the commitment and love of our audience of hundreds of millions of women, will continue to cement our leading cultural position in the space.“

Refinery29 boasts backers including ad network WPP, Hearst and Discovery.

The group will look to raise income from brand partners in the coming months, leveraging its in-house creative heft through a new consultancy called The29th.

This new London-based consultancy will deliver bespoke content for brands and has signed up the Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), which already works with marcomms giant WPP, as its launch client.

Refinery29 claims to reach over 425 million influential young women around the globe.

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