SiriusXM, the satellite radio company and Pandora owner, disclosed today it's laying off 475 employees, representing 8% of its workforce. In an email sent to employees, CEO Jennifer Witz said the cuts would impact "nearly every department" across the company, and follow a review of SiriusXM's operations announced in November that aimed to identify areas where it could improve its agility and efficiency, she said. As part of that effort, the company made efforts to cut content, marketing and discretionary spending, decreased its real estate footprint and tightened its travel and entertainment policy. However, citing today's "uncertain economic environment," and the investments planned in the business this year, Witz said headcount reductions were also in order.
"Over the past five years, our business has grown and expanded with the addition of new acquisitions, business lines, and revenue streams. Now, we have completed an assessment of our departments and functions to determine where we can improve collaboration, consolidate teams to achieve greater efficiencies, and ultimately, design an organization structure that is best positioned to achieve our priorities," Witz wrote in the email. "As a result, nearly every department across SiriusXM will be impacted. We believe the new operational design will allow us to move faster and more effectively as we take on new challenges across our business."
We understand that, while the layoffs were impacting all teams, product and tech had the least cuts due to the company's strategic initiatives for 2023, which it's also continuing to hire for.
As of its most recent quarter, reported SiriusXM a total gain of 134,000 subscribers -- an improvement over the loss of 231,000 subscribers in the year-ago period, bringing its self-pay subscriber base to 32.4 million and its total users to 34.3 million. However, its Pandora business has not been faring as well amid competition from rival streamers like those from Spotify, Apple, Amazon and Google. In the final quarter of 2022, SiriusXM lost 52,000 net self-pay Pandora subscribers, to end the quarter with 6.2 million self-pay subscribers. Pandora's monthly active users had also dropped from 52.3 million to 47.6 million year-over-year.
Though Pandora was an early leader in music streaming, its owner has not yet fully capitalized on its 2018 $3.5 billion acquisition. To date, it's offered some integrations between the services, including a Pandora NOW station on the satellite streamer and bundle discounts at times.
Following the deal, the company in 2021 brought in a former Disney+ exec, Joseph Inzerillo, as its new chief product officer, who has been shaking up how some of its internal workings operate. For instance, Inzerillo recently told TechCrunch the company's previously separated SiriusXM and Pandora engineering teams were now completely integrated as the company aimed to approach its services going forward in a "much more platform-oriented view of this as opposed to a product-specific thing."
The company suggested it had more changes on the horizon for 2023, which began with increased personalization for its SiriusXM app as it moves further from being a "radio"-style service with stations and buttons to one that's modernized for today's more digital car dashboards, like CarPlay.
In addition to Pandora, SiriusXM over the past few years acquired the podcast network Stitcher for $325 million in 2020 and, more recently, Conan O'Brien's Team Coco podcast company for $150 million in May 2022. Witz told investors during the company's last earnings call that these acquisitions provided the company with the opportunity to do cross-selling across live broadcasts, music streaming on and off platform and podcasts. However, she admitted, more investments were needed across the industry to provide better tech solutions for advertisers.
In the email to staff today, Witz said employees would be contacted directly about their departure and would have the ability to speak with a member of its People + Culture HR team. It's also providing exit packages that include "severance, transitional health insurance benefits, Employee Advocacy Program continuation, and outplacement services," the email noted.
We're hearing that these packages will vary based on several factors, including the length of employment, the position held, and individual contractual arrangements, if and when applicable.