Executives at the Wing, a prominent social club and coworking space for women, told employees in a Zoom call this morning that it will lay off “almost all of our space teams and half of our headquarters” by the end of the day after seeing “95% of our revenue disappear overnight.”
The business, perhaps as well known for its high-profile members as it is for peddling “Instagram-ready feminism,” announced mid-March that it would temporarily close its 12 physical spaces over the coronavirus pandemic. The company said at the time that it aimed to reopen its spaces by April. The announcement today, however, is a preview of what’s to come for private equity-funded startups designed to grow—and thus burn money—rapidly, in an economy brought to a horrible, screeching halt.
“If you are being impacted by this layoff,” Lauren Kassan, the Wing’s cofounder and COO, said on the call, “you will hear from your executive leader by 6 p.m. today. We are turning off Slack for the day to respect the privacy of those impacted by the decision. In addition to Audrey [Gelman] and I forgoing our salaries, we will also be making salary adjustments to employees in leadership roles.” Kassan said the business plans to pay laid-off workers a two-months severance, accrued PTO, and offer insurance until June.
“We were on a great path because of you,” said Gelman, the company’s cofounder and CEO. “That’s why bringing us together today to share the fate of the company is something that we could have never imagined. As we shared with all of you on Wednesday, while we made the right and necessary decision to close our spaces for the health and safety for everyone, these decisions have had significant impact. A few weeks ago, we were talking about which locations we were going to be opening next; then seemingly out of nowhere came a global crisis, the likes of which no one has ever seen. Now, we simply don’t know when or even if we’ll be able to reopen again.”
Following the call, an employee who requested anonymity told Fast Company, “We had our company leaders telling us just two weeks ago that they were going to be taking care of us. This came as a shock to us, obviously a majority-female staff, in the middle of a pandemic. It sucks.”
We reached out to the Wing for further comment and will update if we hear back.