Earlier today, online auction startup Paddle8 announced widespread layoffs that would sever ties with dozens of staffers in their three offices, in New York, London, and Los Angeles, sources close to the matter tell ARTnews. Some departments are down to a single staffer, with the heavy cutbacks affecting cataloguing, design, and tech.
A source said that it would be fair to describe the staff as “gutted.”
The news comes in the wake of Paddle8’s split-up with German art startup Auctionata, just nine months after their high-profile merger sparked a first round of layoffs and departures, a number of them involving senior staffers. Now the ranks have been thinned even further. The website currently states that Paddle8 is “a team of over 120 art, collectibles, and technology experts.” However, the “team” section on the website lists 76 staffers—dozens of whom, a source said, are no longer with the company.
The London bureau underwent layoffs last week; the Los Angeles office was hit with layoffs as well.
Additionally, ARTnews has learned that Paddle8 co-founder and former CEO Aditya Julka is no longer with the company.
2017 has already seen a series of shakeups among art market startups. In early January, Artspace laid off nearly all of its employees, including Andrew Goldstein, the editor-in-chief of its editorial arm. This week Goldstein was slotted into the position of editor-in-chief of artnet News, the editorial arm of art market startup artnet, replacing Rozalia Jovanovic.
And more changes are to come. When Paddle8 announced that it would be parting ways with Auctionata, a press release said the company would be embarking upon “a fully-funded buy back of the Paddle8 brand and business from Berlin-based parent company Auctionata Paddle8 AG.” The buy-back would be made possible due to the sponsorship of a “market-leading investor group” that would be led by a “strategic, majority sponsor.” Sources mentioned a few possible investors who could be involved with the larger team, but none could be confirmed as the majority sponsor
When reached on the phone, a press representative at Paddle8 confirmed that there were layoffs, indicating that they were part of the process of splitting off from Auctionata. The rep also confirmed that Julka is no longer with the company, but added that he would be staying on as an advisor.
Clarification 2/14/17, 9:48pm: An earlier version of this article implied that Paddle8’s London office had moved. A representative for the company has indicated that this is not the case.