News aggregation unicorn Dailyhunt and short video platform Josh’s parent firm VerSe Innovation Pvt. Ltd has laid off 5% of its 3,000-strong workforce after its bi-annual performance management cycle in a bid to streamline its costs and teams.
“Given the current economic climate, like other businesses, we’ve evaluated our strategic priorities. Considering the long-term viability of the business and our people, we have taken steps to implement our regular bi-annual performance management cycle and made performance and business considerations to streamline our costs and our teams,” said Umang Bedi, co-founder, VerSe Innovation.
The layoffs come a few months after the company raised $805 million at a valuation of around $5 billion. The round was led by CPP Investments, which alone wrote a $425 million cheque. New investors Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board, Luxor Capital, Sumeru Ventures and existing investors Sofina Group, Baillie Gifford, among others participated in the funding mop-up in April.
The round also saw its Chinese investor ByteDance selling its entire stake to two Canadian investors: CPP Investments (erstwhile CPPIB) and Ontario Teachers‘ Pension Plan Board (OTPP).
In addition to the layoffs, the company has announced salary cuts across verticals to offset its expenses. “To ensure long-term profitable growth, we have exercised fiscal and employee prudence and implemented an 11% salary cut for all individuals with salaries above Rs 10 lakh per annum,” Bedi said.
Founded in 2007, VerSe Innovation launched Josh in 2020 after the Indian government banned the popular ByteDance-operated short video platform TikTok citing national security and user safety concerns.
In the financial year 2022, the company posted a net loss of Rs 2,556 crore, up from Rs 822 crore in the fiscal before. Its total revenue, on the other hand, grew Rs 1,095 crore, as compared to Rs 727 crore in the financial year-ended 31 March 2021, according to VCCEdge.
In addition to Dailyhunt and Josh, the company operates the hyperlocal video app PublicVibe. However, the company’s primary source of income remains Dailyhunt. In FY22, the company passed its income from Josh to influencers on the short-video platform.
“We remain extremely committed and bullish across our entire family of apps: Josh, Dailyhunt and PublicVibe to drive profitable growth,” Bedi told Mint in April.
In 2021, VerSe Innovation acquired homegrown social networking app GolBol in its third acquisition. Previously, the company had bought Bengaluru-based Cognirel Technologies Pvt Ltd to improve its artificial intelligence capabilities and video-sharing app Vebbler, to increase creator offerings on Josh.