Rooster Teeth Lays Off 13 Percent of Staff

Matt Hullum - Rooster Teeth - Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy Rooster Teeth

The media company has undergone a tumultuous period of corporate ownership changes over the past few years.

Austin, Texas-based media company Rooster Teeth has laid off 13 percent of its staff. The company declined to disclose the number of employees affected, though, as of this summer, Rooster Teeth had approximately 420 workers in its employ. 

In an internal email obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, CEO Matt Hullum said, "Today has been a tough day at Rooster Teeth, and is unlike any other moment of organizational change we have experienced together. As we looked ahead at all of our upcoming opportunities and challenges, we had to make some difficult decisions about how we are organized."

First launched in 2003 by Hullum and five other co-founders (Burnie Burns, Geoff Ramsey, Jason Saldaña, Gus Sorola and Joel Heyman), Rooster Teeth rose to popularity through online comedy videos, including live-action shorts, "Let's Play" video game playthroughs and animated content, among other projects. In January, it debuted the animated program gen:LOCK, starring Michael B. Jordan, through its website.

Thursday's layoffs are the latest development in a tumultuous period at the company. In 2014, Rooster Teeth was acquired by Fullscreen Media, the multichannel network that itself had been bought a few months prior by AT&T and the Chernin Group. Fullscreen was a part of Otter Media, a joint venture of AT&T and the Chernin Group that buys, invests in and grows digital media businesses. In addition to Fullscreen, Otter's brands include Crunchyroll, Ellation and Rooster Teeth. AT&T bought out TCG's stake in the business in the summer of 2018 following its acquisition of Time Warner, since renamed WarnerMedia, which acquired AT&T's stake in Otter in May.

Last December, Otter went through a round of layoffs as part of a restructuring plan that resulted in 10 percent of its employees losing their jobs.

"As discussed during your department meetings, our managers have adjusted their teams to meet the needs of our future. Our industry is evolving rapidly, and we have to evolve with it if we want to succeed," Hullum wrote in his email to staff Thursday. "As we begin a new chapter, we have the opportunity to focus on what we do best: creating great content for our community and partners, supported by key lines of business including advertising, distribution, memberships, events and e-commerce."

Hullum closed the email by saying remaining staff would meet after the weekend to discuss "these changes further" and then thanked those affected by the layoffs for their time at the company. "I have been fortunate to work closely with many of those leaving today, and I’m sad to say goodbye, but also incredibly proud of what we accomplished together," he wrote.