After Viacom Deal, Awesomeness Lays Off Roughly Half of Staff

Bob Bakish
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ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish

Viacom has been in cost-cutting mode under CEO Bob Bakish.

Three weeks after purchasing Awesomeness, Viacom is laying off 98 employees at its new acquisition, amounting to roughly half the staff, according to a filing with California's Employment Development Department.

Additionally, CEO Jordan Levin has left the company, The Hollywood Reporter learned Friday.

The EDD filing says 50 employees will lose their jobs on Oct. 15, then another 33 on or after that date. An additional 13 will be cut on Dec. 31.

Awesomeness reaches about 158 million subscribers across its various platforms and Levin had previously agreed to leave the company after a post-acquisition period, which apparently has ended.

Last year, Viacom hired Awesomeness veteran Kelly Day to run the Viacom Digital Studios Group as its president, and Awesomeness has been added to her portfolio.

"As we begin to integrate Awesomeness and streamline the organization within Viacom, a number of positions were impacted today," a Viacom spokesperson said Friday. "We are grateful for the many contributions of each individual and continue to work diligently to ensure a smooth transition."

Viacom in general has been in cost-cutting mode since Bob Bakish took over as CEO nearly two years ago and it had already laid off about 500 people this year, so it comes as no surprise the conglomerate controlled by Sumner and Shari Redstone would quickly streamline Awesomeness.

Viacom said July 27 that it had acquired Awesomenesss, a digital media company that targets teens and preteens, though it kept the price tag a secret.

Insiders say Viacom paid about $25 million plus the assumption of debt, bringing the cost to as much as $100 million. That could be considered a bargain being that it was valued at $650 million two years ago when Verizon and Hearst bought a chunk of it from NBCUniversal.

Insiders say that the layoffs at Awesomeness were across the entire organization but primarily focused on duplicative positions in legal, finance and human resources.

Aug. 17, 6:24 p.m. This story and headline has been updated to reflect additional layoffs.