Rooster Teeth Announces Layoffs, Restructuring
Austin studio cuts 13% of staff
By Richard Whittaker,
1:30PM, Thu. Sep. 12, 2019
Founded in 2003, Rooster Teeth was a pioneer in online video, predating Youtube, and has become a major force in online content, with a huge catalog of animated and live action shows, a game division, and a slate of films, as well as a huge loyal fanbase. The original founders sold the company to Fullscreen in 2014. This began a series of takeovers and mergers that lead to RT becoming part of AT&T's WarnerMedia holdings. Throughout this, it has retained a great degree of autonomy – which lead to both its biggest growth period (adding titles like RWBY and gen:LOCK), but it also lead to a culture of crunch, and questions of production process and pipeline, leading to Animation Director Gray Haddock moving from his managerial position into a strictly creative role earlier this year.
That was widely seen as the first step in a restructuring process that hit hard today, with the first staff reduction in the company's 16 year history. In a letter to staff sent out this afternoon, cofounder and CEO Matt Hullum confirmed the cut, stating that "this decision is not reflective of anyone’s individual performance, and we’re thankful for all that our former colleagues have contributed. We will be doing everything we can to ease their transition, including helping them find their next opportunities."
The layoffs will clearly have a major impact on Austin's creative community, as Rooster Teeth is one of the biggest employers of artists and developers in the city.
Here's the full email from Hullum.
Hello everyone –
Today has been a tough day at Rooster Teeth, and is unlike any other moment of organizational change we have experienced together. As we looked ahead at all of our upcoming opportunities and challenges, we had to make some difficult decisions about how we are organized. Unfortunately, this meant that earlier today we reduced the size of our team by approximately 13% overall. This decision is not reflective of anyone’s individual performance, and we’re thankful for all that our former colleagues have contributed. We will be doing everything we can to ease their transition, including helping them find their next opportunities.
As discussed during your department meetings, our managers have adjusted their teams to meet the needs of our future. Our industry is evolving rapidly, and we have to evolve with it if we want to succeed. As we begin a new chapter, we have the opportunity to focus on what we do best: creating great content for our community and partners, supported by key lines of business including advertising, distribution, memberships, events, and e-commerce.
We've accomplished a lot this year already: gen:LOCK and Immersion have both debuted successfully on TV, we’ve announced new content partnerships with DC, HBO Max and others, and we continue to produce the amazing programming that brings joy to our community every single day.
We can look forward to more success along this path: continuing to grow our relationships within the WarnerMedia family and beyond, and finding new platforms where we can continue our pioneering creative work in gaming, animation, and comedy.
With many teams moving to new office space tomorrow, we will meet briefly on Monday to discuss these changes further. I look forward to seeing you, as I always find renewed confidence, optimism, and excitement in our mission when we come together as a team.
Finally, I want to wish all our former co-workers the very best. We’re thankful for the passion and creativity that they brought to Rooster Teeth, and grateful for the friendships we’ve formed. I have been fortunate to work closely with many of those leaving today, and I’m sad to say goodbye, but also incredibly proud of what we accomplished together.