Private cannabis company Leafly laid off 91 employees this week amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Former Leafly editor Ben Adlin announced on Twitter that he had heard Leafly had made the layoffs which were later confirmed by the company. Adlin also noted the company still owed him $6,700. Adlin’s employment was prior to the pandemic layoffs.
“Today Leafly eliminated the roles of 91 employees across the company, 39% of our workforce. We’re heartbroken to have let so many talented people go in such an uncertain time. Although Leafly continues to grow and rapidly deploy pickup and delivery services for retailers and brands across North America, COVID-19 has rocked global financial markets and put further capital investments we were expecting on pause. This workforce reduction will allow us to be financially self-sufficient so we can continue to help consumers and patients learn about and order cannabis online while providing cannabis retailers and brands the services they need during this global crisis,” said CEO Tim Leslie in a statement.
The company said it would provide one week of severance pay for the laid-off employees and two months of health insurance
Viridian Capital has acknowledged the slowdown in capital raises for the cannabis industry. The company recently wrote, “Capital raise activity for the week ended March 6th remained slow for the third week in a row, bucking the trend of increased capital raise activity that we’ve been reporting on since the beginning of 2020.”
Leafly had established itself as a provider of news and reviews for cannabis companies. It boasted strong traffic numbers, which allowed the company to charge top dollar for its reviews. In 2019, the company embarked on an expansion project to create a CBD e-commerce element to the website as well. It quickly increased the number of employees to as many as 300 with workers based in Seattle as well as Austin TX.
Green Market Report interviewed Leafly during the MJ Biz conference in December in which the company described its growth and plans for future data including data mining from user searches. There was also a back-office product to help dispensaries run their business called Leafly Insights. One month later in January, Leafly cut 54 employees.
Formerly With Privateer
Leafly had been a part of the private equity Privateer Holdings portfolio, but then the company was spun out to be independent. Former Leafly founders Cy Scott, Brian Wansolich and Scott Vickers departed to launch another Seattle-area marijuana company, Headset. Headset is essentially the business that Leafly Insights looks to be emulating.
The company raised $2.3 million in October even as it was announcing plans to scale back its growth. Leafly still lists several jobs available on the company’s website.