Waze To Close S’pore And APAC Sales Offices, Lays Off 5% Of Workforce

Google-owned navigation and mapping service Waze will lay off 5% of its global workforce, CEO Noam Bardin said in an employee email announcement.

This equates to about 30 of its 555 global workforce. He did not mention how many of his Singapore employees are affected.

All affected employees will receive severance pay which includes career transition opportunities within Google, outplacement services, financial assistance, and eligibility for end-of-year bonuses and health benefits.

Waze said the downsizing was in part due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw its users drive less or stop driving, causing them to use Waze less for their daily navigation needs.

Fewer eyeballs on the app resulted in lower advertising revenue for the company.

Acquired by Google in 2013 for US $ 1.1 billion (S $ 1.4 billion), Waze has seen both monthly active users and miles driven plunge, the extent to which l he company measures the distance traveled by its customers while using Waze.

The distance traveled per week in the world has decreased by 70%

In April, Waze said in a blog post that its customers had driven 60% fewer kilometers in March, when the lockdowns began to take effect, compared to February.

These numbers worsened as the pandemic continued. Waze says that at one point during the lockdown, the kilometers traveled per week around the world decreased by 70%.

Since June, Waze has started to see a resumption of driving as people return to work in countries where restrictions have been lifted. Overall, the company says it has returned to pre-COVID driving levels.

Image Credit: Intelligent Transport.com

“This forced us to rethink our priorities and we decided to focus our resources on improving products for our users, accelerating our investments in technical infrastructure and refocusing our sales and marketing efforts on a small number of high value-added countries, ”said the CEO. Noam.

Closure of its S’pore and APAC offices

His memo added that Waze’s ad sales team “will shrink and focus on key markets that generate 93 percent of revenue and carry 95 percent of the miles driven we sell.”

This means that the company will close its sales offices in Asia-Pacific – Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia – as well as its smaller Latin American markets of Colombia, Argentina and Chile.

It will continue to serve these countries through increased investments in Waze Local Starter – a self-service advertising solution that businesses can use to promote their physical stores via a pin on the Waze map.

Previously, ridesharing apps Grab and Gojek had also cut jobs to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, as people stayed at home and avoided going outside, leading to a drop in demand for transport services.

Last Friday (September 4), Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung told parliament that Singapore’s 356 bus services were in the red with a drop in commuter numbers due to Covid-19.

Before Covid-19, only 11 bus services, or 3% of all bus services here, were profitable, according to Minister Ong.

Layoffs linked to the pandemic continue to occur, with the recent case of the Singapore Airlines Group (SIA) downsizing exercise – cutting around 4,300 jobs at its three airlines – as Covid-19 hits the industry aeronautics.

Featured Image Credit: Bloomberg

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