Leafly slashes 18% of workforce to align business with ‘market realities’ of tech and cannabis industry

Leafly CEO Tim Leslie.
(Photo by Daniel Berman via Leafly)

Seattle-based cannabis information resource company Leafly today laid off 54 employees, or 18 percent of its workforce, GeekWire has learned. There were 33 people let go from the company’s Seattle headquarters.

Leafly cut roles “to more closely align our business operations with the market realities of the technology and cannabis sectors in which we operate,” according to a statement from CEO Tim Leslie (read in full below).

The company has an additional offices in Baltimore, Austin, and Toronto, along with remote workers across the globe.

Leafly provides cannabis information and services via its website and apps, connecting consumers with retailers and brands. It also publishes cannabis-related news.

Leslie is a former Amazon Prime Video executive who joined the company this past March following the removal of former CEO Chris Jeffery last year.

The CEO told employees late last year that Leafly was implementing a company-wide effort to limit spending and slow down hiring. Leslie indicated the moves were necessary to integrate the 150 new employees who came on board in 2019 — doubling the size of the company in the process.

Leafly moved into a larger headquarters building last year to accommodate for growth.

The site’s global internet traffic and engagement has fallen over the past few months, according to Alexa data. Competing resources such as weedmaps.com and wikileaf.com have seen increasing traffic.

(Leafly Image)

Leafly has been operating as an independent company since February when it was spun out of former owner Privateer Holdings, a Seattle-based private equity firm. Privateer merged with cannabis company Tilray, one of its portfolio companies, in December.

Cy Scott, Brian Wansolich and Scott Vickers founded Leafly in 2010. They all left after the acquisition to launch another Seattle-area marijuana company, Headset.

Leafly is among a bevy of startups — including many from the Pacific Northwest — riding a massive wave of interest in cannabis as legalization of recreational and medical marijuana increases. Funding for cannabis companies more than doubled from 2017 to 2018 to $1.3 billion, according to Crunchbase.

Leafly has 17 open roles on its jobs page. The company raised $2.3 million in a convertible note round in October, according to a SEC filing.

Along with Leslie, Leafly made a number of key executive hires in 2019, bringing on experienced employees such as Dave Cotter, chief product officer; Yoko Miyashita, general counsel; Tracie Wurlitzer, vice president of human resources; Laura Morarity, vice president of corporate affairs; and Anya Edstrom, vice president of marketing. Kirk Beardsley joined as chief operating officer in July but he left last month.

Here’s the full statement from Leslie:

“Today, we eliminated the roles of 54 talented people to more closely align our business operations with the market realities of the technology and cannabis sectors in which we operate. These individuals have invested their time and passion into helping others learn more about cannabis, and enabling retailers, doctors, and brands to connect with them. We are so grateful for each of them and their work.

We enter 2020 coming off of a banner year of innovation. In 2019, we launched the Leafly Cannabis Guide to help people learn more about cannabis strains. Our editorial team continued to deliver exceptional reporting, most notably leading coverage of EVALI. We launched new tools and services for retailers and brands and expanded our Leafly Pickup service. And we started Leafly Market so our customers can get a curated selection of hemp-derived CBD delivered straight to their door. In 2020, you can expect Leafly to deliver even more innovation in helping people learn about, find and buy cannabis, while empowering the businesses of retailers, doctors and brands.

Today is a hard day at Leafly. We wish our colleagues the best as they pursue the next steps in their careers. We look ahead to continued innovation in service of our customers and the cannabis industry.”

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