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Verizon is laying off 155 employees who work on its go90 streaming service, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
The majority of the cuts come from Verizon’s San Jose, Calif., office where much of the product team working on go90 is based.
“Our focus with go90 and our Verizon digital media efforts are to fulfill our strategy of leveraging Verizon content investments, enhancing user experience and strengthening our advertising infrastructure,” reads a statement from a Verizon spokesman. “Fulfilling this strategy has resulted in some duplicative resources and has required organizational changes impacting 155 employees as we consolidate offices in Los Angeles, San Jose and New York. These changes are not indicative to a change in our strategy and we remain committed to rapidly enhancing our existing online video products and delivering new products.”
Verizon in October acquired the team and technology behind Vessel, the streaming service that ex-Hulu CEO Jason Kilar launched in 2014. The acquisition was largely seen as an acqui-hire intended to bring Vessel’s engineering talent into Verizon to help it with go90 and other media efforts. At the time, Verizon said that CTO and co-founder Richard Tom would remain with the company, leading technology and operations for Verizon Digital Entertainment. The deal was to be finalized by the end of the year, and these layoffs appear to be at least in part related to the completion of acquisition.
Verizon has made go90 a key part of its effort to diversify beyond its telecom services, especially as it chases scale through the acquisitions of AOL and Yahoo.
Verizon spent big in 2015 to acquire short-form content for the free, ad-supported service, which launched in October 2015. But the app’s programming, a mix of live sports, full length TV and web series, has yet to take off with the young millennial audience it’s trying to reach. Over the summer Verizon hired digital veteran Ivana Kirkbride to oversee go90 content and in the months since the hire, the company has made big bets on projects like Megyn Kelly-produced Embeds and other projects from high-profile names.
In January, Verizon executive vp Marni Walden told investors that she was “encouraged” by the early performance of go90 but acknowledged that “we still have a long way to go.”
Verizon is set to report earnings on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
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