Owned by Google, the international navigation company is facing major restructuring that sees at least 5% of their workforce facing layoffs.
With over 130 million users on their navigation app, it comes as quite a surprise that tech giant Waze has succumbed to the economic damage brought on by this year’s unforgiving pandemic. In a recent email sent to all employees, Waza CEO Noam Bardin informed his staff that they will be “closing on-the-ground Sales offices in APAC (Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia) and smaller LATAM markets (Colombia, Argentina, Chile)” on top of letting go 30 people from their team of 555 people. That’s practically 5% of their employees.
In April, while most countries were facing government sanctioned lockdowns, Waze noted the dramatic drop in app users and compiled their data in a Medium blog post, as well as facilitated a Waze Crisis Response team that supported at least 58 countries with region-specific relief efforts. Naturally, with most non-essential workers working from home, the dramatic drop in app users led to weakened advertising profits.
As reported in The Verge, Waze which was bought over by Google in 2013 for USD 1.1 billion, had witnessed a sharp decrease in both active monthly users, and driven kilometres by other customers, which is the metric measured by the company to observe how far people drive while using the app.
As the pandemic dragged on, numbers dwindled even further with global weekly driven kilometres down by 70%. However, since June, as countries with successfully controlled COVID-19 numbers started lifting restrictions, Waze has begun to see revenue recovery as users resumed work and daily commutes. In a bid to “rethink priorities”, Waze CEO Noam Bardin has informed his team of their current plan in restructuring.
“We’ve decided to focus our resources on product improvements for our users, accelerate our investments in technical infrastructure, and refocus our sales and marketing efforts on a small number of high-value countries.”Noam Bardin, Waze CEO
While sales offices are being closed in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Colombia, Chile, and Argentina, the tech company is now looking to bring more focus to countries where business is observed to be growing. As of now, Waze will be concentrating their efforts in the US, UK, France, Brazil, Canada, Italy, and Mexico.
With people all over the world facing work loss due to the pandemic, Waze has informed all employees affected by the restructuring of compensation measures put into place supported by international labour laws. This includes providing assistance to all affected staff to help them find other opportunities within Google itself, severance packages of up to 6 months after the notice, year end bonuses, and health insurance coverage until early 2021.
Here’s Waze CEO Noam Bardin’s email to staff:
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many cities and countries have enforced travel restrictions to curb the spread of the disease, so it’s no surprise that our users are driving less (or have stopped altogether), leading to a significant drop in kilometers driven (KMDs), Carpools, and Ad revenue.
This has forced us to rethink priorities and we’ve decided to focus our resources on product improvements for our users, accelerate our investments in technical infrastructure, and refocus our sales and marketing efforts on a small number of high-value countries. These investments ensure the long-term success of Waze and that we exit this pandemic stronger than we entered it.
I have always strived to maintain a transparent culture at Waze, so I want to share with you that in order to continue and accelerate our investment in Engineering and other technical positions, I have decided to close 30 roles in other parts of Waze. I’m sorry this email is coming over at such a late hour but I wanted to make sure we reached out to all impacted employees first.
At a high-level, these are the impacted areas:
Ads Sales Team: The Ads team will pare back and focus on the key markets that drive 93% of revenue and carry 95% of the KMDs we sell in. This means we will be closing the on-the-ground Sales offices in APAC (Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia) and smaller LATAM markets (Colombia, Argentina, Chile). We will continue servicing these countries via increased investments in Waze Local Starter, supported by our SMB teams in our main sales hubs.
Partnership Team: Uncertainty of back-to-work plans from our employer partners and with employees continuing to work from home means that we will be shrinking the Carpool Partnerships team. Our narrowed product focus also means we’ll reduce our product partnerships and private & public sector teams.
Marketing Team: The focus on fewer markets and adjustments in our partnership investments means that we will be reducing the size of the Marketing team.
Performance Marketing Team: We are making investments in Product to support our Growth efforts and are restructuring the Performance Marketing team to realign around these efforts.
Letting Wazers go is an extremely painful process for all of us. I want to make it clear that these reductions are being made due to the constraints created by the pandemic and to support investments in our focus areas, and not because of anyone’s actions or performance.
The leaving Wazers were a critical part of our growth up to now and it is important that we take care of those leaving as best we can. Our goal is to try and help as much as possible and ease this process for them. We’ve done our best to support those affected with a severance package that includes:
Career Transition: The Google Internal Mobility teams have been working with us and will help all impacted employees search for opportunities within Google.
Outplacement Services: We will be offering outplacement services to all impacted employees from the date of the notice through six month after employment.
Financial: Given the circumstances of the year, we have worked closely with the internal HR teams to ensure that everyone has been taken care of through early 2021 and will be eligible for year-end bonuses.
Healthcare: We are giving each impacted employee as many continued benefits as possible, in accordance with local law.
I ask that we all help in any way we can and support our colleagues, both in highlighting internal roles at Google that we may know about and external opportunities we may be aware of.
I want to thank all of the impacted team members — Waze has become what it is because of your contributions. These changes are happening due to a global pandemic, and none of this is your fault. We have no doubt that you will bring your talents to a new team and help them become even better, as you’ve done at Waze.
Resource credit: The Verge
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