The economic shutdown trigged by the coronavirus is having a profound effect on Portland’s tech companies, which have begun cutting jobs as they work to adjust to the downturn.
Portland software company Puppet said Friday it laid off less than 10% of its 500 employees, and marketing technology startup Opal said it laid off 20 from its staff.
“We trust the industry experts who tell us we can expect a slowing in global economic activity in the second quarter of this year and a ‘new normal’ for how businesses will operate going forward,” Puppet CEO Yvonne Wassenaar said in a written statement. “At Puppet, we understand these new market realities and are aligning our business to ensure we keep our focus on helping solve our customers’ most pressing problems in efficient and effective ways.”
Puppet is the city’s most prominent tech company. Technology managers use its software to manage data centers and other large computing networks. The Portland Business Journal first reported Puppet’s layoffs.
Opal CEO Steve Giannini said in an email said that his business is “financially sound” and believes it has the resources to manage its future and potentially pursue small acquisitions. He said Opal’s cuts reflect adjustments necessary to adjust to COVID-19, the outbreak caused by the coronavirus.
“We left 2019 and began 2020 with a focus on profitability and efficiency. We expect that the changes we implemented today will allow us to operate at a break-even level, even with the impact of COVID-19 on 2020 revenues,” Giannini wrote.
Founded in 2010, Opal has raised more than $22 million in funding. Giannini did not say how many employees remain after the cuts but said the company is “financially sound” and believes it has the resources to manage its future and potentially pursue small acquisitions.
Other Oregon startups, especially young companies, have indicated privately that the economic catastrophe afflicting many industries is taking a severe toll on their businesses. There are sure to be more cuts in the coming weeks. (Portland-based Jama Software laid off a dozen earlier this week but said the cuts were part of an annual reorganization unrelated to the coronavirus outbreak.)
Oregon shed an extraordinary 76,000 jobs last week as businesses hunkered down to restrain the spread of the virus. The biggest cuts have come in the hospitality sector, with bars, restaurants and hotels shutting down.
Portland vacation rental management giant Vacasa began laying off employees last week, and cut other employees’ hours and executives’ pay, ahead of what it forecast will be a precipitous drop in its business.