WME To Reduce Staff By 20% As Endeavor Slashes Jobs; UTA Faces ‘Temporary Furloughs’ (Update)
As many as one-third of the employees of Endeavor Group Holdings, which includes WME, are to be “affected” by furloughs, salary cuts and other cost-saving measures that began in March and are expected to continue through May.
But, as Pollstar went to press, it was confirmed that 20% of WME staff will face layoffs, furloughs or part-time employment beginning May 10. The cuts are expected to be sweeping, including “partners, executives, agents and staff at all levels,” according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
“WME is reducing its workforce by approximately 20% as a result of COVID-19’s impact on our business,” reads a statement to Pollstar. “We appreciate the contributions of our former colleagues, and out of respect for their privacy, we will not be commenting on the status of specific employees.
“While we are making these difficult decisions now to safeguard our business, we believe in the resilience of our team and our industry.”
Meanwhile, United Talent Agency has reportedly furloughed employees temporarily, with health benefits intact. The agency had so far avoided the salary cuts and job losses of some of the other majors. Most of those affected by the May 4 furloughs are assistants, Pollstar confirmed.
The continuing cutbacks at Endeavor follow those affecting 250 in March, with the layoffs of restaurant workers and groundskeepers and salary reductions across the board. At the time, Endeavor was believed to employ around 7,500. After those cuts, the number affected by the second round could be about 2,400 employees.
This time, job cuts are being made across Endeavor’s business units. “Like other companies, we are taking a variety of actions to mitigate the impact of this pandemic,” a spokesman told the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the layoffs.
In March, it was learned that Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel and Executive Chairman Patrick Whitesell would forego their salaries for the remainder of the year.
“As we all focus inward to protect our personal health and safeguard our families, every company around the world is simultaneously faced with safeguarding the health and future of its business. We are no different,” Emanuel wrote in his note to staff at the time. All parts of our company are feeling the effects.”
But acquisitions created debt, and when Endeavor filed for an IPO in May it revealed it had $4.64 billion in long-term debt. The IPO was pulled in September when it became clear it wouldn’t raise the funds that had been hoped.Paradigm Talent Agency was among the first to institute layoffs, with word that chairman and CEO Sam Gores conducted a videoconference March 20 to inform all staff that temporary pink slips were imminent. Within a week, it was reported that more than 250 of a staff of more than 700 had lost their jobs.
Since then, Paradigm has secured funding to restore many of the salary reductions. Creative Artists Agency and APA have reportedly undergone staff pay cuts and other cost-cutting measures as well.
“In this time of tremendous uncertainty for individuals, businesses, governments and communities, it is incumbent upon us to look closely at what measures help ensure CAA always remains the strongest company for our employees and clients,” the company said in a statement to Pollstar. “Making cost reduction decisions is always a thoughtful and deliberate process for us, never more so than under these extraordinary circumstances.
“We are implementing, among other actions, a reduction in pay among employees across all levels of the agency, with our highest compensated colleagues shouldering a greater responsibility.” ICM Partners, with a smaller music department and less debt, has not experienced layoffs as of yet, according to person with knowledge of the agency’s position.