Shutterfly trims 160 jobs, will transfer some to Minnesota

Newly privately held photo personalization giant Shutterfly Inc. is already trimming the ranks, according to media reports. The San Francisco Chronicle reports the company is laying off more than 150 employees from its Redwood City headquarters, according to a California Employment Development Department filing. According to the report, 66 employees will lose their jobs and 87 workers will see their jobs relocated.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Shutterfly is moving 100 marketing jobs to Eden Prairie, Minn.; “affected California workers” will be offered the chance to relocate to Eden Prairie but the report added the company executives expect few takers. The Shutterfly employees will join Lifetouch’s current nearly 700 employees. Greg Hintz, the Shutterfly veteran who was named Lifetouch president in July, is in the process of relocating to Eden Prairie.

Jim Hilt, Shutterfly Consumer

“Two years ago when we acquired Lifetouch, we didn’t know what to expect as we thought about the company and its structure,” Shutterfly Consumer president Jim Hilt told the Tribune. “When we acquired Lifetouch there were challenges relative to the economics of that business and the employee ownership model it had. But we thought there were leadership changes and roles that Shutterfly can play in making that better. We thought about all the connections Lifetouch has to the communities it serves and how it connects to millions of households.”

The announcement is not a surprise, as staff reductions customarily occur after acquisitions, especially in private-equity situations in mature markets.

In fact, in the wake of the original Shutterfly-Lifetouch acquisition, we postulated a shift of personnel from the pricey Redwood City headquarters to the more affordable Midwest were in order. Shutterfly is basically a large-scale marketing and printing company, not a tech company anymore. A Silicon Valley address may have been desirable at the company’s launch in 1999 but talent pools are nationwide now. In fact, Minneapolis is the home to Taylor Corp., one of the largest printing companies on the planet. (Incidentally, Taylor Corp. purchased LifePics in 2012.)

As the San Francisco Chronicle notes, “The marketing and consumer departments were hit hardest by the layoffs, with engineers and human resources workers, as well as the chief technical officer, also affected.” Currently, there is no CTO listed among the top management on the Shutterfly web page. The last CTO, Dr. Satish Menon resigned effective Sept. 6, 2019, although Menon stayed on as a consultant through the end of the year.

The executive suite at Shutterfly is currently much trimmer than it was under the Christopher North era. North’s top team included nine members, including positions that no longer exist on the six-person Shutterfly leadership page, like president, Shutterfly Enterprise, held by Scott Arnold, (who still lists Shutterfly as his employer on his LinkedIn profile) and senior vice president of retail, Michelle Anderson, who moved on, and chief product officer, Ishantha Lokuge, a 13-year veteran who left in September,