Kickstarter has discussed layoffs as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages its crowdfunding business, and it now looks like those job cuts may be particularly severe. In a message to Gizmodo, the company has confirmed plans to cut a large portion of its workforce after the OPEIU (the union representing Kickstarter employees) said it had ratified a layoff agreement on May 1st. The union said layoffs could affect up to 45 percent of the workforce, according to a notice sent to Engadget, although Kickstarter disputes that number when it doesn’t factor in voluntary buyouts.
The terms could ensure a relatively soft landing for those who leave. The arrangement provides four months of severance pay and either six (for those earning $110,001 or less) or four (for those above $110,001) months of healthcare coverage. They’ll be free to work for competitors the moment they accept severance, and they’ll have “recall rights” to return to Kickstarter if a job similar to theirs opens up within the next year.
As with other tech industry layoffs during the pandemic, this comes down to a matter of basic survival. It’s not clear when it’ll be safe for crowdfunding projects that depend on human-to-human interaction, and cuts like this may help Kickstarter endure that period of uncertainty.