Hopper announces ‘significant’ layoffs in face of COVID-19 pandemic

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Hopper, the Montreal-based airline-ticket-purchasing app, has announced layoffs across the company as it grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and the near-total shutdown of the airline industry it has prompted. 

Talking Point

Hopper, the Montreal-based airline-ticket-purchasing app, has announced layoffs across the company, amid airline shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though Hopper did not say how many people it’s laying off, a spokesperson said the reductions would come “across all offices and departments.” It last raised money in October 2018, when it closed a US$100-million Series D.

“As the realities of coronavirus have unfolded across the globe, it has become overwhelmingly evident that each and every one of us will feel its weight in some way. Unfortunately, the travel industry has seen an impact unprecedented in its history, and it is with heavy hearts that we have had to make the very difficult decision to reduce our workforce,” said Hopper CEO Frederic Lalonde in a statement Monday. 

The number of people affected by the layoffs wasn’t immediately clear, but a source close to the company characterized them as “significant.”

“We’re making reductions across all offices and departments,” said Hopper spokesperson Brianna Schneider.

The company, whose headquarters are in Montreal’s Mile Ex neighbourhood, also has offices in New York; Cambridge, Mass.; and Sofia, Bulgaria.

Founded in 2007, Hopper uses artificial intelligence to gauge when it is cheapest to purchase flights. Its app sends out push notifications alerting the user to either hold off or buy the tickets, based on its algorithm-driven predictions. Hopper, which claims to be able to predict prices with 95 per cent accuracy, began offering a similar service for hotels in June 2019. The app has been downloaded over 40 million times.

The company has raised a total of US$183.4 million, in part from OMERS Ventures, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and Investissement Québec. It closed its last round, a Series D, in October 2018, raising US$100 million from those three investors as well as Accomplice, Brightspark Ventures and the BDC Capital IT Venture Fund. At the time, the company said it would use the funding for global expansion and continued development of its AI.

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