Canadian tech layoffs continue as tough year comes to a close

Properly, TealBook, D2L, League among latest firms to cut staff amid economic downturn.

At least another 10 Canadian tech firms have recently laid off employees as companies prepare for what could be a prolonged economic downturn.

Properly, TealBook, D2L, Symend, and League have all made layoffs in recent weeks. Along with recent cuts by Apollo Insurance, Faire, Swift Medical, VanHack, and Koho, these moves indicate that Canadian tech companies across verticals and geographies continue to feel the pressure of challenging market conditions.

“Conditions have deteriorated much faster than we anticipated and we cannot predict when the market will recover.”
-Anshul Ruparell, Properly

This group joins a growing list of Canadian tech companies to lay off employees this year in an effort to slash costs and extend their runway amid what has become a tough fundraising market and broader economic environment fuelled by rising interest rates in the face of mounting inflation.

As TealBook founder and CEO Stephany Lapierre put it in a November 1 letter to employees, since TealBook’s $50 million USD 2021 Series B round—during what was all-time high for venture capital investment—“the market has changed dramatically.”

“It is not a good time to raise capital,” Lapierre told BetaKit. “We expect several tech companies in our space to run out of capital over the next 12 to 18 months. We wanted to stretch our runway to 40 months to make sure we successfully launched [our supplier data platform] and get through the other side of this downturn in a strong and opportunistic position for growth.”

Toronto-based TealBook has laid off 34 employees, which Lapierre confirmed represents 19 percent of the supply chain data startup’s team.

For proptech startup Properly, which is also headquartered in Toronto, these conditions have led to what co-founder and CEO Anshul Ruparell described as “one of the most significant corrections in the history of the Canadian housing market.”

In a November 15 letter to Properly employees, Ruparell wrote that Properly began staffing up during “a historic wave in both the real estate market and the startup funding environment.” Since then, both markets have cooled.

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“Conditions have deteriorated much faster than we anticipated and we cannot predict when the market will recover,” wrote Ruparell. “I am accountable for the decision to expand our team to support a level of scale and growth that it is now clear will not materialize in the foreseeable future.”

Properly’s layoffs impacted 71 employees. When asked by BetaKit, Ruparell did not say what percentage of the company’s staff was affected. Based on Properly’s headcount on LinkedIn, the 71 employees would represent nearly 37 percent of the company.

These layoffs come three months after BetaKit reported that Properly had raised $36 million CAD in “Series B 2” capital to extend its runway and put its geographic expansion plans on hold.

Meanwhile, Kitchener-Waterloo’s D2L, which went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange last year, has laid off five percent of its team in a push to balance growth and profitability.

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In a November 16 statement announcing the cuts, the EdTech firm’s leadership wrote, “we believe these changes will enable us to achieve continued success within the current economic environment.”

D2L did not say how many employees were impacted by the move, however, according to LinkedIn, D2L currently has 1,232 employees, indicating that the layoffs may have impacted around 60 people. BetaKit has reached out to D2L for comment, but the company did not share any further information or context, pointing instead to its existing statement.

In Alberta, BetaKit reported earlier today that Calgary-based customer engagement software startup Symend had laid off around 13 percent of its now 234-person staff and closed $54 million CAD as it looks to adjust its spending and scale efficiently.

For its part, Toronto-based healthtech company League appears to have laid off seven percent of its staff, according to LinkedIn posts from former employees, with one noting these were “company-wide layoffs.” BetaKit has not independently confirmed the figure, and League had not responded to a request for comment by time of publication.

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According to LinkedIn, League currently employs 618 people, which indicates that around 43 employees may have been affected by the cuts.

Vancouver insurtech startup Apollo Insurance also reportedly laid off 25 percent of its employees this week. Insurance Business Magazine reported that the cuts came after Apollo Insurance failed to meet its revenue targets. Apollo Insurance has 118 employees according to LinkedIn. When reached by BetaKit, Apollo Insurance would not confirm how many employees or what percentage of the company’s staff were impacted by these cuts, but noted they “reflect a renewed focus for our organization.”

Apollo Insurance co-founder and VP of marketing and PR David Dyck told BetaKit that despite these cuts, Apollo Insurance plans to continue to invest in its tech platform, adding, “these changes will not reduce any of our existing technology or product offerings.”

Meanwhile, The Information has reported that Faire laid off around seven percent of its 1,200 employees last month as the Kitchener-Waterloo and San Francisco-based online wholesale marketplace contends with a fading e-commerce boom and drop in consumer confidence.

RELATED: RenoRun lays off 43 percent of staff to extend runway as inflation rises and consumer confidence falls

“We made the difficult decision to restructure and reduce the size of a few teams last month to increase our focus on our core priorities in 2023,” a Faire spokesperson told BetaKit. “While several employees transferred to new teams, the roughly 7% who weren’t able to transfer internally received a severance package. Our number one priority remains to serve our community and we are in a strong position to do that going forward.”

Swift Medical, a Toronto-based wound care management startup, also appears to have recently cut staff. One source put the amount at nearly one-third of the startup’s employees. A LinkedIn post from a current Swift Medical senior talent acquisition partner noted that roles affected include sales, marketing, engineering, R&D, product, and operations. According to LinkedIn, Swift Medical currently has a headcount of 134.

A month ago, VanHack founder and CEO Ilya Brotzky announced on LinkedIn that the Vancouver-based tech talent network had also laid off staff. Based on the talent list Brotzky shared, 32 people were let go. VanHack currently has 100 employees, according to LinkedIn.

“As a bootstrapped company we had no choice but to reply to the sharp downturn in hiring,” Brotzky told BetaKit. “Our goal is to learn from this terrible experience and never have it happen again.”

“We expect several tech companies in our space to run out of capital over the next 12 to 18 months.”
-Stephany Lapierre, TealBook

Toronto FinTech firm Koho, which recently let go of 15 people across its Instant Pay product and user success teams, has been mindful about hiring.

Koho founder and CEO Daniel Eberhard referred to the cuts as restructuring rather than layoffs, noting that with a team of 350 people the cuts amounted to 4 percent of Koho’s headcount. “We went into a near hiring-freeze in Q2. Today we’re hiring judiciously across product, [engineering], and a few other functions,” he told BetaKit.

These 10 companies are far from the only high-growth tech firms to lay off staff amid this economic environment. According to layoff tracking website, 834 startups globally have cut a combined 134,164 employees so far this year at publication time.

Some of the many other Canadian tech companies that have cut staff in recent months include Dapper Labs, Hootsuite, TouchBistro, RenoRun, Trulioo, Ada, and SkipTheDishes, among others.

South of the border, e-commerce giant Amazon, Facebook parent Meta, and fellow social media firm Twitter have cut thousands of staff over the past two weeks in rounds of mass layoffs that impacted an unknown number of Canadian employees.

Feature image courtesy Properly.

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit reporter focused on telling in-depth Canadian tech stories and breaking news. His coverage is more complete than his moustache. He was also the winner of SABEW Canada’s 2023 Jeff Sanford Best Young Journalist award.

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