Breather bloodbath: Flex-office startup fires 17% of staff

The Montreal-based firm has 300 locations in 10 cities

Breather CEO Bryan Murphy (Credit: LinkedIn and iStock)
Breather CEO Bryan Murphy (Credit: LinkedIn and iStock)

UPDATED, Dec. 5, 2019, 4:52 p.m.: Breather, an on-demand workspace company, fired almost a fifth of its staff Thursday.

The Montreal-based firm, which provides office space across 10 different cities and has more than 100 employees, laid off at least 18 staffers, The Real Deal has learned. In a post on LinkedIn, Breather’s director of research, Anja Jamrozik Otto shared that she and others were leaving the company. A person familiar with the matter said the layoffs amounted to 17 percent of Breather’s workforce.

“Today, along with so many talented, creative and resourceful coworkers, I got laid off,” Otto wrote.

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Breather would not disclose how many staffers it had laid off, or confirm that layoffs had occurred. A statement attributed to CEO Bryan Murphy said that the company had grown 250 percent in the past year.

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“We have made changes to make sure that resources are aligned with our mission of providing customers with frictionless access to private, productive space as a service and to achieve profitability by the end of next year,” the statement said.

According to a spreadsheet Otto shared, the layoffs include software developers, customer service representatives and account managers.

It’s an uneasy time for the co-working industry, as firms big and small face challenges. After shelving plans to go public and narrowly avoiding bankruptcy, WeWork is still trying to chart a path toward profitability. The co-working giant let go of roughly 4,000 of its 12,000 employees last month. Also last month, New York-based firm Corporate Suites was briefly evicted from its location at 1001 Avenue of the Americas after a payment dispute.

Breather has raised a total $122 million in funding rounds led by Menlo Venture and RRE Ventures. Across 300 buildings across 10 cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. The company says its clients include Pandora, Spotify, Anheuser-Busch, Apple, Uber, Google and Facebook.

The company has experienced its own growing pains and has replaced some of its top executives in the past year. After its co-founder Julien Smith stepped aside from his role as CEO last year, he was replaced by former eBay executive Bryan Murphy in January. Last month, the firm hired a new head of real estate, former Regus executive Dan Suozzi.

Update: This story has been updated to include the final percentage of staff layoffs.