Saskatoon tech company Vendasta fires about 5 per cent of employees

One of Saskatchewan’s biggest tech companies became a little smaller recently.

Vendasta sells digital tools to companies that serve small businesses, filling in gaps in areas like marketing and human resources. Last week Vendasta let go of nearly five per cent of its 700 employees, or roughly 35 positions, citing structural changes to the business.

Chief Operating Officer Jacqueline Cook says Vendasta grew rapidly during the pandemic as businesses rushed to get online and change how they operate.

“Now that, you know, the pandemic is sort of in the rearview and businesses return to pre-COVID, more sustainable levels, we’re simply matching both our team and our level of investment with our strategy,” she told CBC’s Saskatoon Morning.

Cook said that while the laid-off workers may not be a fit with Vendasta’s new game plan, the company is helping them find new work in the tech sector.

“We want to make sure these people find a job that they’re absolutely amazing at, and that might not be at Vendasta. But I can guarantee you there are other technology companies or companies that need technological people that would welcome them with open arms, so it’s our job to match them with those companies.”

She noted that the company may still be hiring new employees to deliver on its new goals.

‘Increase efficiency and grow profitably’

In an statement sent to Vendasta staff last week, CEO Brendan King said that the layoffs targeted people whose performance or cultural fit was not ideal.

“As a company of over 700 people, it is unavoidable that we will have people that do not meet our level of expectation for performance and culture. Given the current environment we have raised the bar. This unfortunately has resulted in a number of people leaving our company,” the statement reads.

Cook also acknowledged that the tech sector is seeing a lot of layoffs lately, especially among notable Canadian firms. E-commerce company Shopify laid off 1,000 workers last month, and WealthSimple laid off 159 of its 1,200 employees.

Vendasta more than doubled in size to more than 700 workers from 2019 to 2022. (Matthew Howard/CBC News)

Cook outlined Vendasta’s strategy moving forward, saying it would adjust to “increase efficiency and grow profitably,” and make sure the company can take advantage of current market opportunities.

“From 2018 until the start of this year, valuations were based almost exclusively on growth and capital was cheap so it made a ton of sense to raise money and invest,” reads the statement. “That is what we did. Now, valuations are based on companies growing profitably, and it is in everyone’s best interests that we adapt to this new reality.”

The message insisted that layoffs are not the only staffing moves being made, with 26 people receiving promotions in the last month.

Cook said a central tactic is to “be frugal,” noting that the company has saved more than $1 million a year on software costs and around $500,000 a year by renegotiating prices and deleting unused software subscriptions.

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