Digital Media

Forty employees laid off at digital content publisher Diply

Source: Facebook

Diply has laid off 40 employees across its headquarters in London, Ont. and its Toronto and New York offices.

The digital publisher once stood out as one of the success stories of the 2010s internet viral content craze. It provides easily shareable listicles, humour pieces and how-to explainers to a large social audience, and previously touted itself as “the fastest-growing website in internet history.”

As of September 2016, Diply had 150 employees. An independent PR spokesperson working on behalf of the company said a little over 100 employees will remain after the layoffs.

“Over the past few months, Diply has faced some setbacks as we’ve worked at improving what we’ve offered our users,” says a memo from CEO Taylor Ablitt, which was sent to staff on Wednesday and which the spokesperson provided. “We’re reaching millions of people, but we’re facing serious issues in the market.”

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Web traffic to the viral website has declined for two years, according to SimilarWeb, an internet research firm. Total visits fell about 85 per cent between July 2016 and June 2018. Diply’s website generated 110 million visits in July 2016, but that number fell to just 13.7 million in June 2018, according to the firm’s data.

Traffic has declined in large part because of a series of content algorithm changes by Facebook. The most recent change, made in January, substantially decreased the amount of space given to publishers on users’ News Feeds. Diply relied heavily on Facebook sharing to circulate its punchy and humorous content—the social network accounts for over 90 per cent of its desktop social traffic, according to SimilarWeb.

Earlier this month, The Logic reported on declines in Diply’s web traffic and social shares, as well as an earlier round of layoffs in February.

Talking Point

Diply’s online footprint has waned after changes to Facebook algorithms, which they heavily relied on for content sharing. The company has been heralded as a Canadian startup success story, with 150 employees as of September 2016. The layoffs include staff from the video, social strategy and development departments.

Other viral internet publishers have also experienced hardship since Facebook’s algorithm changes. Viral Thread, ViralNova, 9GAG and Bored Panda have all seen interactions with their content decline, while the website LittleThings closed down entirely in February and blamed the changes.

“The new structure allows us to emerge a more nimble company with a laser focus on keys [sic] areas of success,” says Ablitt’s memo to staff. “This includes content development with diverse distribution channels, social commerce, data, and programmatic advertising. These areas continue to thrive in our fast moving market and represent predictable, sustainable, scalable growth.

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“The restructuring is effective immediately. I’m very sorry to say that 40 of our colleagues will be leaving.”

According to the memo, some staff are being laid off due to changes in Diply’s revenue operations, while others are being let go because the company is “reducing staffing in our video, social strategy, and dev operations.”

In addition to its London headquarters, the company’s website says it has offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Toronto.