Hubilo's rise from a niche virtual platform to a serious player in the virtual event space appears to have dramatically ended. In a twist of fate, in-person events may come to the rescue via badging specialists Fielddrive, a company it acquired in February.
Layoffs hit Hubilo Monday, with at least 50 staffers let go, according to one employee who was terminated. This employee knew personally of at least 50, although they could not confirm the final number. One plan had called for 100 layoffs.
The layoffs affected mostly sales and marketing roles, said the same employee. There appear to be very few employees left outside of India, where most of the company’s employees are based.
A growing list of Hubilo employees who received notice were adding LinkedIn’s green #OpenToWork feature and photo frame on Monday.
Another staff member who lost their job and asked to stay anonymous said Hubilo’s chief marketing officer, Erik Newton, who joined in February, is being replaced by Blair Arbuckle, the current chief of staff. The same staff suggested Arbuckle could now be the company’s only remaining U.S.-based employee.
Hubilo did not respond to requests for comment. But founder and CEO Vaibhav Jain shared a personal post on LinkedIn. “With the reopening of the world (and subsequent collapse of the virtual events industry), our plans had to dramatically change, and we’ve spent 2023 building and delivering the best webinar experience out there. The reality is – while we’re excited about the growth and impact we’ve been able to have in the webinar space, it’s not yet sustainable with the size of our current organization.”
Note that Jain appears to have completely given up on the concept of virtual events, with Hubilo focusing only on simpler webinars instead.
Jain went on to invite potential employers to contact him directly for references. He also thanked previous employees and assured customers that the product and service levels would not suffer.
Hubilo raised $125 million in October 2021 after raising $23.5 million earlier that year. In February, Hubilo acquired badging specialist Fielddrive in a move that marked its first investment in in-person events. With a platform mostly focused on the virtual experience, Hubilo has experienced at least two other rounds of layoffs, one in July of 2022 and another in January of this year, according to Layoffs.fyi and trueup.
Looking for Root Causes
Rachel Moore, who was Hubilo’s senior director of marketing until February, shared a scathing post on LinkedIn, directly criticizing Hubilo’s leadership for a number of management blunders.
Mismatched audience targeting, a lack of accountability, and frivolous marketing stunts, likely referring to Hubilo’s extravagant Cannes Lions activation, were all included in Rachel’s laundry list.
Another previous employee, Gloria Zhu, previously director of global demand & growth, added a post on LinkedIn highly critical of Hubilo’s CEO. She left the company in August after 18 months. In the post, she questioned the reasons why Hubilo’s CEO remained in place after multiple rounds of layoffs in 18 months.
In-Person Events Going Strong
The writing may have been on the wall as Hubilo opted not to exhibit at the recent IMEX America. Fielddrive, which operates as a separate company, was present. The same is planned for the upcoming Event Tech Live. There were no reports of job cuts at Fielddrive.
In fact, while the parent company appears to be struggling, Fielddrive shows no sign of slowing down. Fielddrive CEO Danny Stevens told Skift Meetings that the company is seeing a continued shift to in-person event offerings. “This renewed focus will see the Hubilo group shift further resources toward its Fielddrive operations while downsizing its team focused on virtual and webinar offerings,” said Stevens.
Stevens shared that Fielddrive has recently gained 22 staff members, bringing the total to 60. He said it has secured extra financial resources and that it has grown 50% year-on-year.
“These are exciting times for events with many changes in the tech landscape still poised to happen, and with these reinforced operations, fielddrive has never been better positioned to become the leading player in this field,” said Stevens.
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