We hear that Oyster, the high-end travel website that laid off more than a third of its staff in December, has canned its remaining editorial staffers.
A tipster says Oyster's "remaining three reporters and last remaining editor" were laid off today via e-mail. Oyster's business model involved spending lots of money on seasoned reporters to do detailed hotel reviews. That didn't work out so well, and yesterday it announced plans to transform itself into a hotel booking site. Another source familiar with the company says CEO Elie Seidman has been trying to convince staffers to take a 50% paycut (which Seidman denies). Maybe to help pay for the business development people he's hiring? A call to Seidman was not immediately returned.
UPDATE: Seidman writes:
Yes and no. We've been on hiatus from doing new reviews for the past few months but are now ready to spool up again. We have ended our staff reporter model but are actually now doing more reviews again. After carefully assessing the economics of the staff reporter model, we've migrated from a staff reviewer model to a freelance model. The caveat is that the people eligible to be freelance reviewers for Oyster is limited to those who have reviewed for us in the past; we require that all reviewers review at least 20 hotels a year so that they have an expertise doing our reviews. I expect that with this change, we will also expand the pool of reviewers.
One other thing, there is no truth to this part of your post: "Another source familiar with the company says CEO Elie Seidman has been trying to convince staffers to take a 50% paycut."
I don't believe in collective punishment. When we need to cut costs, we reduce headcount. But we don't reduce the compensation of those who remain with us.