Remember Oyster.com, the haute travel service that was briefly a bastion for travel writers, then a glam hotel review site, and then just sort of a booking service? The long death march is coming to an end: virtually every employee just got axed today.
I'm told the entire editorial staff is out—except for the site's editorial director, and perhaps a couple of freelance engineers. This is a murmur before total demise (or a cheap sell-off). Staffers were brought in to death meetings this afternoon, following a couple of ominous emails sent last week after Oyster's co-owner Elie Seidman returned from a family trip to the Hamptons:
From: Elie Seidman
Sent: Wednesday, June 05, 2013 6:58 PM
Cc: Eytan Seidman
Subject: Re: Update
Vis a vis timing, our hope and goal is to be able to provide an update on where we see things evolving to by late next week. I recognize that this uncertainty is challenging to deal with and we're working to rapidly to eliminate the uncertainty.Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or comments.Thanks,ElieFrom: ES Eytan Seidman < email@example.com>
Date: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 1:39 PM
To: company < firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Elie Seidman < email@example.com>
Recently there was an article written about Oyster: http://skift.com/2013/06/01/hea...
First off, I want to remove any rumors and say that large parts of it are accurate although there are numerous factual errors.
Our focus ever since starting Oyster has been to create a site that users love and can be a strong business. When we launched in June 2009 (four years ago this month) we had zero users. This first quarter we did over 2 million unique users and nearly $500,000 in revenue. And as many of you know we have a product that our users really love. Despite that, however, getting the business to be able to scale and deliver excellent and sustainable business results has been a challenge. And so we are exploring finding a home for it where it can just do that. Our ultimate desire is to find a great place for the business and for everyone involved in it.
I know that a situation like this can create angst and uncertainty. I feel, though, that this bit of short term uncertainty is a fair tradeoff in order to be as honest and upfront as we can be.
Elie and I will work to be as transparent as we can be during the process; however, there are obviously things that we cannot reveal. What I ask of you in return, is to keep working hard on the business and on what we do every day.
I am in the office this week and happy to answer any questions folks might have either via E-mail or in person. If my door is open just walk right in.
Seidman "ran this [company] out of money going on vacations to wherever the hell he wanted," one (former) employee tells me.