What do Seegrid, IAM Robotics, Locomation and now RoadRunner Recycling have in common? Their products may differ, but they’re all high-profile Pittsburgh companies that have gotten significant venture capital investment, and still over the past year announced that they’re laying off portions of their workforce.
With the news this week that 10% of its 600-person staff would be laid off, Downtown-based RoadRunner, a waste management tech company, is the latest startup reducing its staff due to economic concerns.
The company ended 2022 on a high with its $20 million secured in a Series D extension round led by Fifth Wall, which followed a $70 million Series D led by General Atlantic. At the time, the company’s leaders said the influx of cash put them in a strong position to continue creating comprehensive and sustainable waste management solutions for business and government clients.
“We’re thrilled to work alongside Fifth Wall to drive carbon emissions reduction, at scale, for some of the world’s most prominent owners and operators,” RoadRunner founder and CEO Graham Rihn said in a November statement. “Our comprehensive, data-driven approach to waste management brings optimization, transparency, and sustainability to a traditionally overlooked and forgotten part of an organization’s supply chain.”
So, why the layoffs now? Rihn told Technical.ly this week that the current state of the economy forced RoadRunner to streamline its operations by reducing its staff.
“This reduction is, unfortunately, unavoidable as we adjust our strategies to continue providing world-class services to our customers,” Rihn said in an email.
The CEO didn’t answer Technical.ly’s questions about which sector of RoadRunner’s workforce would be impacted by the layoffs, or if any further changes were in store for the company.
Pittsburgh companies haven’t been alone in facing financial challenges. While the US doesn’t yet seem to be in a long-predicted recession, experts have observed a “richcession,” aka a recession impacting individuals with high-paying jobs throughout the nation. Closer to home, we’ve seen tech companies close due to a stated inability to financially support continued operations. For its part, in an attempt to keep former tech employees from leaving the city following layoffs, the Pittsburgh Technology Council has committed to assisting them in finding new job opportunities within the Steel City.
In the meantime, for former RoadRunner employees, Rihn said the company intends to provide those impacted with severance packages.
“Our culture has always focused on caring personally for one another, and as such, we intend to fully support those impacted by providing severance packages, including medical continuation, and outplacement services as they navigate this transition,” he said.Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
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