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.
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.