Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh Talks About Vacationing One Day, Firing A Third Of His Staff The Next

Ignition Conference 2011 Ben HuhBen Huh

Ben Huh, CEO of the meme-centric Cheezburger Network, told Inc.’s Liz Welch how he decided to lay off 24 people, one third of his entire staff, back in April. (Cheezburger now employs about 40 people.)

The company was suffering from a shift of its users from desktop to mobile platforms. Ad revenue on mobile is significantly lower than desktop, and Huh realised he needed to trim his company’s size after seeing less-than-stellar Q1 2013 results while still on vacation in Spain.

The internet entrepreneur described his thought process to Inc., as he decided to cut short his trip and head back to the office early:

“We knew we needed to scale back — same destination, smaller boat. I figured that I would be judged by the honesty with which I handled the situation. I knew people would be angry. But I also knew there was nothing I could do about that.”

While he couldn’t do anything about those angry with him, Huh still wanted to do all he could for those let go.

After breaking the news to his team, Huh reached out to other companies on behalf of those let go, eventually setting up a job fair to help those displaced.

Even though trimming the size of the company made financial sense, Huh called the week of layoffs the most difficult week of his life.

“Often, when faced with a problem, you want to run in the other direction. It’s like seeing a lion in the jungle. But I have to do what is best for the company, even if it sucks emotionally.”

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