Jason Del Rey

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LivingSocial Lays Off Events Staff — Then Realizes Some Events Must Go On, and Asks Staff Back

You’re fired! Just kidding. Well, you are. Just not as soon as we first thought.

That’s essentially the message that some LivingSocial employees got from the company’s HR department this week, as the daily-deals company started shutting down its local events business called Adventures.


In one of the instances, events employees were notified that the business in their market was shutting down on July 15. Then, on July 16 — a day after the original termination day — HR told those same workers that they would actually be expected to work until July 24. The reason for the switch? According to sources, the higher-ups realized that there were still some events that were already sold and needed to be put on.

In total, LivingSocial is laying off 30 full-time employees, according to spokeswoman Sara Parker. But sources say that each of the nine Adventures markets relied heavily on several dozen part-time employees who were paid on an hourly basis.

Parker said she couldn’t comment on this specific case, because different markets and different employees had different arrangements for the transition.

“There’s not a one-size-fits-all experience, but I’m not disputing the fact that there might have been some confusion,” said Parker.

Confusion, indeed. Full-time event managers were busy hiring part-time employees as recently as last week, according to sources. Asked if some managers were hiring even as the layoff day approached, simply because execs couldn’t notify them of the impending shutdown, Parker admitted, “I can say we made every effort to make it go as smooth as possible.”

News of the layoffs was first reported by the Washington Business Journal, and comes almost exactly two years after the company announced the creation of the Adventures business with an ambitious launch in 30 markets.

The shutdown is taking place five months after LivingSocial raised $110 million, amid attempts to find a bright light at the end of the daily-deals tunnel. The company registered a net loss of $650 million last year, as it retreated from many of its international markets.

Parker said the local-events business was just one of four pieces of the company’s larger events unit, and the only one that wasn’t profitable. She added that the company couldn’t figure out how to profitably scale a business that curated events that often involved an activity, such as stand-up paddleboarding.

The company will continue to help sell tickets to big events such as Cirque du Soleil, and will host its own national events, as well as the company’s 918F events that take place at the company’s own digs in Washington, D.C.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work