Popular photo app company VSCO terminates one-third of staff

Joel Flory, co-founder and CEO of VSCO

The popular photo app VSCO has terminated about one-third of its staff. VSCO co-founder Joel Flory, posting on LinkedIn, stated the company – which is valued at more than $500 million – is letting go of 45 of its 150 employees, citing the sudden changes in the business environment. While not citing COVID-19 directly, Flory’s message references the necessity to shift to “self-sustaining business.”

Laid-off VSCO employees will receive at least seven weeks severance pay and two months of health coverage, according to Flory, as well as pro-rating stock option vesting, extending equity exercise periods, and assisting with job placement resources

“2020 was staged to be a year where we would continue to forward invest into our business,” he wrote. “Overnight our environment changed. We realized that we would need to shift towards running a self-sustaining business. 2020 remains a year we’ll launch new features for our community. Our focus right now is to support our team. We are providing a minimum of 7 weeks of severance pay and a minimum of 2 months of health coverage.”

National Public Radio (NPR) broke the story prior to Flory’s announcement.  According to NPR, VSCO joins more than 200 startups that, together, have shed more than 20,000 U.S. employees since the coronavirus pandemic started, according to layoff.fyi, a San Francisco-based technology layoff tracker

The news is quite the downturn for the high-flying Oakland, Calif.-based VSCO. The app gained notoriety when it gained viral fame as the preferred imaging app for #VSCOgirls, an influential subculture among teenage girls. NPR cites Pitchbook estimates that VSCO is valued at $550 million, with $90 million invested from Glynn Capital Management and Accel.

For VSCO, it is a sharp turn from its direction in recent months. The app has been used by more than 200 million people and is considered a competitor to Facebook’s Instagram, only without the pressure of likes and comments. The Oakland-based company, which is backed by venture capital, was poised to head into a new round of investment this year after an Internet meme known as #VSCOgirls, went viral and inspired a subculture among teenage girls.