This morning, Yelp announced it is reducing the size of its workforce due to the impact of COVID-19 on the company’s business. In a letter sent to employees, co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman wrote that the company is letting 1,000 people go and will furlough roughly 1,100 more. It will also be cutting back hours for some employees.
“The physical distancing measures and shelter-in-place orders, while critical to flatten the curve, have dealt a devastating blow to the local businesses that are core to our mission,” he wrote.
Social distancing measures have closed stores, gyms, hair salons, and, of course, restaurants. So it’s only mildly surprising that Yelp, which is best known for its user-generated restaurant reviews, is feeling the impacts of coronavirus and the nationwide dining room shutdowns. In his letter, Stoppelman called restaurants Yelp’s “most popular category” and noted that interest in them on the site has dropped 64 percent since March 10. “All told, the millions of local businesses hit hardest by the effects of COVID-19 face the prospect of closing and laying off their employees, without knowing when, or if, they’ll be able to reopen.”
Employees that receive layoffs will get severance pay and up to three months of reimbursement for health insurance coverage. Those on furlough will get unpaid leave but receive two weeks of additional pay and also keep their benefits.
Yelp will also implement 20–30 percent pay cuts for all executives, reduced server costs, “deprioritized” projects and redo the budget based on ensuring company survival (instead of growth). Stoppelman himself will not be taking a salary.
He ended his letter saying that coming months will require the company to “stay nimble and adapt” — an idea more and more businesses across the restaurant industry are being forced to do. That’s true not only of restaurants (both large chains and mom-and-pop businesses) but also companies that provide tech solutions to restaurants. For example, earlier this week, Toast, a company previously valued at $5 billion, announced it was cutting half its staff.
I’d like to put a silver lining on all this, but the unfortunate truth is that layoffs, furloughs, and other drastic moves to stay nimble and adapt are on the way, and the effects of them will persist long after the pandemic is under control.