Refinery29 to Lay Off 10 Percent of Staff

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Refinery29
Philippe von Borries and Justin Stefano

The cuts come as the company expects to miss revenue projections for the year.

Refinery29 is laying off about 10 percent of its staff as it shifts its video strategy, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. 

The cuts account for more than 40 employees at the New York-based company, primarily affecting people in the product, engineering and video divisions. The ad-sales team is also being reorganized. 

The restructuring comes as the digital brand, which focuses on lifestyle and news content aimed at millennial women, expects to miss its revenue projections for the year by about 5 percent. It is the second round of layoffs in the last year for the company, which cut about 34 employees in December. 

Thirteen-year-old Refinery29, which is led by co-CEOs Philippe von Borries and Justin Stefano, began as an editorial site for fashion-minded young women and eventually evolved into a media brand with articles around news, food, travel and other topics. Like many of its peers, it made a push into social video a few years ago, driven by a demand for more of this content from Facebook and other social platforms. But now the company says it will refocus its video efforts on the types of projects that it can license to television networks and streaming services, resulting in a shift away from the shortform videos that populate social media. 

"While this type of content has been driving views, it has not yielded a great monetization strategy to justify the same level of continued investment," the CEOs wrote in their memo to staff. 

Despite the cuts, the executives still painted a rosy picture of the company, noting that international revenue will be up 100 percent for the year and that its live events business, driven by the 29Rooms installation, will be up over 300 percent. "It's important to note that the overall performance of the business this year has grown in a tough environment and that we have successfully diversified our revenue streams," they wrote. 

Refinery29 has raised more than $125 million in financing from Turner, WPP, Hearst, Discovery and other investors. It is among a number of digital media companies that have conducted layoffs within the last few years, including BuzzFeed, Vice Media and Vox Media. 

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the layoffs.