IAC, which owns dating properties Match.com, OK Cupid and the majority stake in Tinder, is close to acquiring New York startup for singles, HowAboutWe.
The deal has not yet been finalised, according to an email Schechter sent to employees that was obtained by Business Insider. It’s expected to close on Monday, at which point, a number of HowAboutWe employees may lose their jobs.
HowAbouteWe is a dating site founded in 2009. Its founding idea was to help people connect by asking them to fill out one simple statement: How about we ____, and inviting other users to join in the date. It recently acquired Nerve, a sex culture site.
“Indeed, we are still finalising a deal and zero final decisions have been made,” Schechter wrote to employees Friday afternoon. “That a deal is even a possibility should remain completely confidential.”
Schechter added that he knew this was a “weird moment” for many at the company.
“I know this is a bumpy — and let’s face it — a weird moment but we should proceed in a manner that is really smart, graceful, and empowering for everyone,” wrote Schechter.
From what employees say, this week has indeed been “bumpy” as the startup gears up to sell itself, particularly in HowAboutWe’d editorial department.
One staffer told Business Insider many employees had individual meetings with HowAboutWe founders Brian Schechter and Aaron Schildkrout on Wednesday and Thursday in a glass-walled conference room. During those meetings, the staffer said they were notified they could be fired due to budgetary restrictions when the company transitions to IAC. The founders relayed that after Monday they would know “how many people can stay.”
The meetings, which were meant to prepare employees for potential next steps, left employees feeling uncertain about what Monday will hold.
“You could just see people crying,” the staffer said, later adding, “It was a very slow, dragged out process of notifying people, which is awful.”
Schechter and Aaron Schildkrout also held a company meeting Thursday at about 5 p.m. where Schechter reiterated the potential deal with IAC and potential, impending layoffs.
“He said we don’t know which of you are going to get positions and we don’t know what budget is,” the staffer recounted.
According to the staffer, some of the employees won’t have to wait until Monday to get the bad news. After the big meeting, the staffer said three employees were told they definitely could keep their jobs.
However, one of the three who thought they were staying told the staffer things changed when they got a text from Schechter Thursday night at about 10 p.m. asking for them to call him. When they called him back, the staffer said he immediately answered with a question.
“How much are you getting paid again?”
They told the other staffer they informed Schechter of their salary, which included a recent raise. When he heard this number, they said Schechter changed his tune and said, “Never mind, I forgot we gave you a raise. I don’t think we can make that work. Sorry.”
Although no one has been technically laid off this week in preparation of the impending sale, a few — including sales teams in LA, Chicago and San Francisco, were let go earlier in June, the employee said.
Nerve.com editor-in-chief Brian Moylan noted he left the company this month in a post on his personal Facebook page. Editor-at-large Lux Alptraum made a Facebook post June 12 noting this month would be her “final one” at the company.
Though they were clearly frustrated with some aspects of the way HowAbouteWe management has handled the looming deal, the staffer noted the company has made some efforts to help employees find new work. They said there would be a “job fair” at the company Monday with recruiters from ZocDoc and that human resources had been trying to provide staffers with job listings.
“Maybe this is how transparency works,” said the staffer. “Maybe it’s better than being laid off by a corporation that gives you no notice.”
HowAboutWe and IAC have been in serious deal talks for the past week. It’s unclear how much IAC will be paying for HowAboutWe, or if the brand will continue to standalone among the other dating brands in IAC’s portfolio.
IAC did not return requests for comment.
Here’s the email Schechter sent to employees today and and has been obtained by Business Insider:
Subject: Quick touch base
I got an email from someone in the media industry asking about “What’s happening with layoffs at HowAboutWe?” They specifically asked about the edit team.
If you get this question, it should be denied. It’s inaccurate. We have not laid anyone off.
Indeed, we are still finalising a deal and zero final decisions have been made. That a deal is even a possibility should remain completely confidential, as well.
The company being in control of the message is the best thing for everyone to be well set up for next steps, and that means keeping things truly in confidence and not telling anyone about this exciting next step may at HowAboutWe, etc. [sic]
I know this is a bumpy — and let’s face it — a weird moment, but we should be sure that we proceed in a manner that is really smart, graceful and empowering for everyone
Thank you. Please don’t hesitate to reach to me with any questions or concerns. I’m available.