Poppulo (Four Winds) Trims 12.5% Of Its Global Headcount

May 12, 2023 by Dave Haynes

The workplace communications and experience platform Poppulo (known for many years in this industry as Four Winds Interactive) has done a staff downsizing round across the offices of its merged and blended company, trimming headcount by 12.5%.

The cuts affect 53 people in the US, 21 in Ireland (where the Poppulo side of the business was started), and 11 in an office north of London. The layoffs were announced a couple of weeks ago.

Layoffs have been a common story across the tech sector in 2023 because of a wobbly global economy, softening demand and, in the case of some of the biggest tech companies, over-hiring.

Termination letters are never fun for the people who are directly affected, but it happens (a lot) and it will hopefully be a career speed bump for most of the people affected. I’m not convinced I’d normally write about this, as I know other companies in digital signage that have quietly let people go, so why put a spotlight on this one?

But there’s a heavily read and heavily commented Linkedin post circulating from one of the affected employees that says the layoffs affected more people and that the affected employees were not treated well. The now ex-staffer suggests “nearly 20%” of staff were let go, and those affected only got eight days severance – not the generous treatment asserted by the executive.

So what’s the story?

I am told by a company source that the severance payout was quite a bit more: A minimum notice period and severance equal to 2.5 weeks, and up to 12 weeks for long-timers. Sales commissions were also paid out according to the account people’s compensation plans.

The old Four Winds, started and still based in Denver, was acquired in early 2019 by a private equity firm out of Austin, TX – Vista Equity Partners, which has some $96 billion in assets under its management. FWI was merged with an Irish firm, Poppulo, in 2021, to create a deeper, multi-channel employee communications platform. About six months ago, the blended companies were consolidated under the Poppulo brand.

The company had 680 employees at the time of the layoffs, and it is logical to think some of the “redundancies” owe to duplication in a blended company – with  two departments in areas such as finance, HR, IT admin and other ops.

There are always at least a couple of sides to these kinds of stories, so I can only go with what I have been told and what I’ve read. While I can’t see anything on the Poppulo or Vista websites directly referencing layoffs, Poppulo’s Irish office did provide a statement to an Irish newspaper confirming the layoffs and describing the move as responding to the changing economic climate and re-evaluating its operating cost base.

Here’s the Linkedin post from the now-former Poppulo account executive, and 500+ follow-on comments.

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