In a recent message to employees, Paper CEO and founder Phil Cutler announced the company’s decision to “restructure” (lay off 81 people) in order to “focus on building a comprehensive Educational Support System to better empower students”.
While 81 people does not hold a candle to some of the other tech layoffs of the past 12 months, it represents about 15% of Paper’s “non-tutor” employees.
This comes a year after the online tutoring provider raised $270 million in a Series D funding round, amid a surge in demand for academic intervention in U.S. schools and only a month after Paper lost a contract with New Mexico because engagement on its platform was consistently low.
It is difficult to tell whether the cuts are to keep in line with the other tech giants that Phil Cutler seems to model his company after or to satisfy investors. Or it could be because money is actually tight now that districts are more aware of the engagement problems that dog 24/7 chat tutoring.
It is interesting that Paper is not announcing a reduction in its Tutoring staff. Although it is possible that the tutors are contract workers and can be hired and fired quite easily without a fuss. It remains to be seen how this restructuring will impact Paper’s future but we will keep you up to date.
The restructuring decision is painful, but necessary to create a business that sustainably supports students and does so in a financially responsible manner. While reducing the workforce is not a reflection of the work done by those leaving, the company has put measures in place to support them, including generous severance, extended employment period, stock option vesting, extended benefit coverage, job search support, and continued access to the Paper platform.
For those staying with the company, Cutler encourages them to use this opportunity to thank and honor those who are leaving, acknowledging their meaningful contributions and positive impact on students everywhere. For those departing, Cutler expresses his gratitude for their talent and dedication in supporting students and making the world a better place, and encourages them to continue making a difference wherever their path may lead.
While the decision to restructure may be difficult, Paper’s commitment to empowering students and providing them with the resources they need to succeed is commendable. The measures put in place to support those impacted by the decision demonstrate the company’s dedication to being responsible stewards of their business and prioritizing the well-being of their employees. It remains to be seen how this restructuring will impact Paper’s future growth and success, but the company’s focus on serving students suggests a promising path forward.
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