Hubba reportedly lays off half its staff following March pivot


Hubba has undergone its second round of layoffs this year, BetaKit has learned.

Speaking with BetaKit, multiple sources familiar with the matter placed the number of staff laid off at approximately 25 people. In March 2018, the Toronto-based startup laid off nine members of its staff, with 45 staff remaining at the time.

“This is the first step in a much larger growth strategy. It is not the first bold and unconventional move we have made and you can be sure it won’t be the last.”
– Hubba CEO,
Ben Zifkin

At the time, CEO Ben Zifkin said the company was doubling down on its machine learning, engineering, and data teams, as part of a pivot from enterprise to independent retail. “Our drive now is to get to our $100 million in revenue GMV target,” Zifkin said at the time. “We are headed down completely on that.”

In September, Hubba announced that former Amazon lead Desh Singh would take on the role of CTO a year after the company’s former chief product officer, Johnathan Nightingale, left the role to found Raw Signal Group (disclosure: Nightingale is one-half of a writing team that regularly contributes to BetaKit). However, Singh’s LinkedIn profile confirms that he left the role sometime this month to join another company. BetaKit has also learned that Hubba CMO Danielle Brown has departed the company this month, and is now listed on her LinkedIn profile as the CMO of Knixwear.

Zifkin did not immediately confirm the exact number of employees laid off or remaining at Hubba, but provided this statement to BetaKit: “As we focus on continuing to grow the business, we will always be optimizing the company to ensure the right structure, team, and resources to execute on our big vision,” he said.

“We are in a multi-trillion dollar market and going up against massive commerce companies like Alibaba and others. We have years of runway in the bank and have had initial success since the launch of our marketplace, but we are here to win and will do whatever it takes get us [sic] to the next level. This is the first step in a much larger growth strategy. It is not the first bold and unconventional move we have made and you can be sure it won’t be the last.”

With files from Douglas Soltys.

Story updated (09/09/18) with new information regarding the departure of Hubba’s CMO.

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Freelance tech writer. Former BetaKit News Editor.

5 replies on “Hubba reportedly lays off half its staff following March pivot”
  1. Avatarsays: Daniel Low

    Mass layoffs aren’t a “bold and unconventional move” – they’re life-changing, and potentially life-destroying. Ben Zifkin sounds like he views his team, and other people as pawns on his path to middling success.

  2. Avatarsays: zach richards

    “We will do whatever it takes to get to the next level” includes saying and doing anything that helps your bottom line above all I guess. Who cares how loyal 25 employess have been to you, they are dispensable. When asked about his global idea for tech and innovation Ben Zifkin also had this to say: “let’s say… you have a great company that’s also a passion project, and you have five employees. If we can help you by building an engine that scales you to 50, then to 500 employees, this changes things for the company and for the people in it.” At next year’s Elevate Tech Fest it would be great to ask him which truth he actually believes

  3. Avatarsays: dv2001

    Startup/scale up tech leaders will always say they are growing. Even when the worst type of thing happens like letting over half the team go, they will tell people they are growing and talk about how awesome they are going to be. Time to be honest and cut the BS. It’s clear Hubba is in deep trouble and their leader should come clean.

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