How Netflix failed, then fired, the staff it hired just months ago

“You’re going to see a bunch of tweets from people being fired at Netflix/Tudum today,” writes writer Nichole Perkins tweeted Thursday, “so please hire us all.”

Perkins was referring to Netflix’s sudden decision to restructure its marketing team and shut down tudum, the fan-service website he had set up a few months before and for which he had hired a dozen employees. (Netflix declined to specify the exact number of employees laid off Thursday, but the entire Tudum team is out of work.)

Even though the streaming giant has a “notoriously fickle credo, anyone can get fired at any time,” as the Hollywood journalist described it, the speed and cruelty with which Tudum staff, many of whom were women of color, were chewed up and spat out left them and outside observers shocked. The ambitious project had been frustratingly set up to fail from the start, with little internal support or marketing from Netflix despite big promises, former Tudum employees said.

“I am extremely resentful and very angry. I think what they did was wrong,” a former Tudum staffer, who asked not to be identified for privacy reasons, told BuzzFeed News. “They have no respect for the livelihoods of these people they recruited to be part of this team. Some people left union jobs to join this team.

On Twitter, writer Sara David shared his shock and sadness to be fired with an offer of two weeks of severance pay after only a few months of employment. She had previously quit a union job at Vice which she said had 18 weeks of severance pay. “I’m devastated,” David wrote.

A second Tudum staffer who spoke to BuzzFeed News and also wished to remain publicly anonymous said he felt caught off guard and cheated about Netflix’s support for the project. “’We were told, ‘Tudum is fine. It’s so new. They know you need time to understand and make it a success,” said this second staff member. “So for them to turn around a month later and get rid of us is misleading.”

But behind the story of Tudum’s sudden collapse lie bigger issues both within Netflix and the the streaming industry more broadly.

The company’s cost reduction comes after a call for results earlier this month revealed alarming figures, with Netflix losing 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of the year – the first quarterly subscriber loss in more than a decade and a stark contrast to the 2.5 million new subscribers it was hoping for add. With revenue growth also down, Netflix said it was considering changing its model, possibly even adding an ad-supported subscription at a lower price.

(We should note a dark irony here: BuzzFeed News is also cut staff following a disappointing results report of our new public parent company.)

Netflix did not return requests for comment. A spokesperson said Gizmodo that Tudum would continue to exist to some extent. “Our Tudum fan website is an important priority for the business,” the spokesperson said.

About Nereida Nystrom

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