Vox Media is decreasing pay and furloughing 9% of workers

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Vox Media is executing several cutbacks in acknowledgement to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In extension to Vox itself, the digital media firm owns assets including Curbed, Eater, Recode, SB Nation and The Verge — and it obtained New York Magazine last year.

The Cost Cutting Steps 

In a team memo, CEO Jim Bankoff described various cost-cutting steps but no obvious layoffs.

The steps, including furloughing 9% of workers from May 1 to July 31. Bankoff stated that this would involve some workers in sales, sales support, production, events, IT and office services, simultaneously with the editorial team at SB Nation and Curbed. 

He further stated that affected workers would maintain their company health protection during this period.

Besides, the firm is suspending payments through the end of 2020, delaying its 401K match, decreasing hours for 1% of workers and cutting wages during the equivalent three-month furlough period for workers making higher than $130,000 every year. 

In essence, the cuts begin at 15%, with Bankoff and Vox Media President Pam Wasserstein using a 50% salary cut.

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 29: Jim Bankoff of Vox Media speaks onstage with Eric Eldon at the TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013 at The Manhattan Center on April 29, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

The Truth About The Layoffs 

In describing the layoffs, Bankoff pointed to the wider economic collapse created by the pandemic, with the dramatic decrease in ad spending, which has influenced many other media companies to declare layoffs and/or salary cuts.

Bankoff said:

We’ve previously seen a drop in our business. Vulnerability in March, hit by the cancellations of SXSW and March Madness, the fall of travel, sports and fashion-related promotion, and additional circumstances led us to miss our income goals by many million dollars in the first quarter; the result will be significantly higher in the second quarter. 

While showing the sharpness of this drop, it’s also essential to know that we will bounce back. 

We don’t know when or to what length a rebound will happen. 

I’d be thrilled if it arrived quickly, but we cannot bet our firm on these hopes. 

While we thank Vox Media speaking to us in good hope, we don’t agree with the company’s choice to furlough workers — particularly after hundreds of us told the firm we were willing to take broader pay cuts to protect all jobs. 

The firm also agreed to decrease the number of furloughs.

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