Vox furloughs 9% of workforce for three months

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Jim Bankoff, chairman and chief executive officer of Vox Media Inc.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Vox Media will furlough 9% of its roughly 1,200 employees and reduce hours for another 1% until July 31 in an effort to curb costs, according to an internal e-mail. The actions are in response to a plunge in advertising revenue during coronavirus quarantines.

Vox, which owns digital media sites such as SBNation, Eater and New York Magazine, will also temporarily cut annual salaries above $130,000 from May 1 to July 31, CEO Jim Bankoff wrote in the e-mail, which CNBC has reviewed.

Employees earnings between $130,000 and $199,000 will take a 15% pay reduction and employees making more than $200,000 will take a 25% reduction. Bankoff and New York Media CEO Pam Wasserstein will cut their salaries by 50%. Vox acquired New York Media last year.

Vox, like other digital media companies including Group Nine Media and Buzzfeed, is cutting back on costs as global advertising dips and unemployment spikes. Bankoff noted that the company has “already seen a decline in our business,” driven by the cancellations of South by Southwest and March Madness, the collapse of travel, sports and fashion-related advertising, and “other factors” that led Vox to miss its revenue goals by “several million dollars in the first quarter.” 

“Areas disproportionately impacted include revenue areas where short term demand will be lower such as sales, sales support, production, events; editorial areas including SB Nation’s national sports coverage and Curbed,” Bankoff said in the letter.

Vox is also freezing wage increases through the end of 2020 and pausing its 401K match program through the end of the year.

Bankoff addressed internal complaints and questions from employees who were championing broader salary cuts and fewer furloughs in the email. CNBC reported earlier this week that Vox was looking to furlough about 100 employees that worked in areas that have slowed during quarantines.

“Some of you have asked if we could have avoided furloughs or layoffs by sharing deeper or longer salary cuts,” Bankoff wrote. “Across the board reductions that are blind to the realities of the pandemic’s specific effects on our business would only dig a deeper hole, forcing us to cut even more, and jeopardize areas that need relatively more investment during the crisis.”

Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Vox Media.

WATCH: Vox Media’s Jim Bankoff on the acquisition of New York Magazine

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