Travel tech and marketing company, Sojern has laid off 50% of its global workforce due to the impact of COVID-19 on the travel and aviation sector. In a statement to Marketing, a Sojern spokesperson confirmed the news and said COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the travel industry that is both “unexpected and unprecedented”.
“Like many other travel companies, Sojern has been hit hard and, in order to weather this global storm, we have had to make some very difficult business decisions. Right now we are focused on ensuring that all our employees, customers and partners are well taken care of, and that we are all able to get through this difficult time together,” the spokesperson added.
A quick check by Marketing found that staff based in Singapore and Hong Kong were also impacted and laid off. These include staff across the sales and marketing departments. According to Adweek, about half of its total workforce globally were cut. The company declined to comment further on the impact in Asia, as well as the roles and departments that were hit.
Last year the company appointed Masahiro Ueno as VP of Asia Pacific (APAC), who according to his LinkedIn has taken up advisory role as of April 2020. Ueno joined Sojern from BuzzFeed Japan, a joint venture set up by BuzzFeed and Yahoo Japan, where he was CEO. Bringing more than 20 years of leadership experience to the role, Ueno was tasked to oversee growth across the wider APAC region including Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand. Ueno has had significant experience having formerly held CEO and president positions at top companies in Japan including BuzzFeed, Criteo, Become, Overture, and DoubleClick. Ueno successfully grew the APAC Criteo business from four employees to over 250 across six regional offices representing over 20 percent of Criteo's global revenue. His appointment came shortly after a US$120 million financing round by TCV in Sojern following rapid growth in the APAC region.
Sojern previously said in a media statement that it has firmly established itself in Singapore, but is also currently serving clients across Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other markets. The Singapore office was first established in 2015, and according to the company, had grown more than 2250% from a team of two to approximately 47 people—consisting of roles in sales, account management, as well as team members in operations, analysts, and tech ops.
According a blogpost by the company approximately two years ago, Sojern’s Singapore office was then considered one of its largest in APAC, tied with Istanbul as its third largest office location globally. Sojern is headquartered in San Francisco, with 600 employees across Dubai, Dublin, Hong Kong, Istanbul, London, Mexico City, New York, Omaha, Paris, Sao Paulo, Singapore and Sydney.