Viacom Lays Off More Than 30 Awesomeness Staffers Following Acquisition
As expected, Viacom has made a round of layoffs at Awesomeness, pink-slipping more than 30 employees of the digital-media company it acquired last month from NBCUniversal, Verizon and Hearst.
In addition, as Viacom previously announced would happen, former Awesomeness CEO Jordan Levin has left the company. The cuts affected more than 10% of Awesomeness’ headcount.
“As we begin to integrate Awesomeness and streamline the organization within Viacom, a number of positions were impacted,” a Viacom rep said in a statement. “We are grateful for the many contributions of each individual and continue to work diligently to ensure a smooth transition.” The cuts were first reported by THR.
Awesomeness is now housed under Viacom Digital Studios, led by Kelly Day, formerly chief business officer of AwesomenessTV, who joined Viacom last fall.
The layoffs at Awesomeness primarily affected corporate positions that were duplicative with Viacom, including human resources, legal and finance departments.
According to sources familiar with the pact, Viacom’s acquisition of Awesomeness is worth at least $50 million. That’s far below the implied a $650 million valuation of AwesomenessTV, after Verizon paid about $159 million to acquire its 24.5% stake in AwesomenessTV in 2016.
One of the factors affecting the value of the Viacom deal for ATV was that the sale did not include DreamWorksTV, the YouTube kids’ entertainment channel, which is being retained by NBCU. Meanwhile, sources said neither DreamWorks Animation (which bought AwesomenessTV in 2013 when it was just one year old) nor NBCU internally valued the Awesomeness business on the basis of the Verizon or Hearst investments. (Comcast/NBCU picked up the majority ownership of Awesomeness with the $3.8 billion acquisition of DreamWorks Animation.)
Awesomeness was co-founded by Brian Robbins — who left as CEO last year to join Viacom as president of Paramount Players — and producer Joe Davola.
After joining Viacom, Day hired another Awesomeness alumna: Paula Kaplan, executive VP of talent and development for Viacom Digital Studios, who was previously AwesomenessTV’s chief talent officer.
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