According to a recent report by TechCrunch, Tech in Asia has laid off 18 of its 60 employees in Singapore, in addition to one-third of its smaller employee base in Indonesia while consolidating its other business units following the failed plan to develop its own cryptocurrency. A majority of these layoffs were in the company’s non-editorial staff.
The ICO was a component of ‘Project Tribe,’ notes TechCrunch, which was a strategy to develop a decentralized platform for building online communities. There is no indication as to just how much capital the company aimed to raise in the ICO, but plans were scrapped amid a worsening macro environment in the cryptocurrency industry.
Despite raising $6.6 million in funding last November, the company has suffered from a 31% drop, year over year, in Q2 monthly active users to 1.84 million while total pageviews slipped by one-third. Annualized 2018 revenue currently comes out to roughly $5 million, a 15% drop on 2017’s revenue with a net loss of $1.05 million for the first half of 2018, meaning the company is still burning cash.
In a brief response to the TechCrunch article, Tech in Asia founder and CEO Willis Wee called the report “erroneous.” While he concedes that the financial figures are largely accurate, his response blasts TechCrunch for overstating employee morale issues, in addition to other accusations of false reporting.
Regarding the drop in users, Tech in Asia notes, “We took our time to add depth to each article, and also stopped republishing pieces from various sources. That led to a drop in the overall number of articles (though each piece was unique), but our user base declined significantly as well.”
Nonetheless, due to the lagging business metrics, the company’s funding runway had dropped from 81 months to just 14 month, as of June. This ultimately prompted Tech in Asia to begin its staff consolidation, which, the company notes, has boosted the runway to 25 months.
To make up for falling revenue, Tech in Asia recently implemented a premium paywall earlier this month, which currently costs $18 per month.
When announcing the subscription package, Wee wrote, “As you probably know, our business model has been built around events and advertising. While these have kept our business going, we are still working towards becoming profitable. Why is achieving this important? Because the only way we can be better at serving Asia’s tech ecosystem is if we have more resources and a consistent income stream.”
While TechCrunch claimed users were surprised by the pricey subscription, Tech in Asia has countered that their premium content is relatively inexpensive compared to other publications and readers were well aware of the subscription after a publicized roll-out.
“Moving forward, we will be aligning our content strategy with what our subscribers want,” said Tech in Asia.
Photo: Tech in Asia / Flickr
Disclaimer: This article’s author has cryptocurrency holdings that can be tracked here. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as investment advice. Always conduct your own due diligence before making investments.