LadBible, one of the UK’s biggest online media success stories, is laying off 10% of its staff following a crash in its share price and a warning about tough trading conditions.
The Manchester-based company blamed the state of the economy, which it variously attributed to the war in Ukraine, the hangover from Covid lockdowns and rising price inflation caused by “the instability Politics”.
Staff were told the layoffs, which follow a recent wave of hiring, were necessary to ‘put themselves in a better position when markets stabilize and economic growth returns’.
LadBible was founded by 31-year-old Alexander “Solly” Solomou, who retains a substantial stake but cashed in shares worth around £50million when it floated last December. Since then, the share price has fallen 65% as the market has deteriorated in media and technology stocks, leaving some investors facing deep losses.
Company insiders have suggested that the company’s future may hinge on its ability to successfully expand in the United States, where it opened an office and hired a small number of employees before a full launch next week. next year. Advertising rates are much higher in the US and LadBible already has huge reach in the country thanks to users consuming content produced for its existing UK and Australian audiences. However, the United States is a notoriously difficult place for foreign media to thrive.
Although LadBible has its roots in sexist Facebook pages, it has long since reinvented itself as a youth-focused publisher best known for its viral social media posts aimed at men and women. This allows him to reach a huge audience – he claims his content reached 315 million people in the first six months of 2022 – but it can be difficult to monetize those pageviews, while the approach also leaves the company to the whims of social media algorithms. .
LadBible announced last month that it had made a half-year pre-tax loss of £1.9 million, which it attributed mainly to the cost of hiring more staff. This recent expansion has made the sudden layoffs even more surprising to employees.
He is not alone among UK media companies to fear that advertising revenue will be cut in the coming months if the UK goes into recession and companies cut marketing budgets. The company has survived many new media startups that attracted substantial investment in the 2010s, while gobbling up old rivals such as UniLad.