Tright here was such fanfare when Invoice Smith, founder and CEO of furnished condo rental agency Touchdown, relocated the corporate’s headquarters to his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, from San Francisco in June 2021 that a ceremony announcing Landing’s arrival featured Governor Kay Ivey, who supplied tax breaks in trade for Touchdown’s promise of 816 native jobs.
This month, the whole lot modified. Touchdown laid off 110 individuals as a part of a restructuring, together with 77 individuals who labored at Touchdown’s downtown Birmingham headquarters, representing about 30% of the workers there, Smith instructed Forbes by e-mail. In the meantime, Touchdown had beefed up its operations in Mexico Metropolis, the place wages are far decrease. The Mexico workers now represents greater than 100 individuals, or roughly 20% of the corporate’s complete workforce, which Smith stated is about 500 workers following the layoffs.
For Birmingham, a metropolis of 200,000, every startup that chooses to relocate or arrange store there’s a huge deal. Town, as soon as an epicenter of the metal business, has struggled to rebuild its downtown the place vacant tons sit blocks away from financial institution headquarters and gleaming workplace buildings. Town was a stop on Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest tour in 2018 and has been working to lure extra tech companies ever since. “A number of pleasure about Touchdown within the Magic Metropolis,” CBS 42 anchor Sherri Jackson stated in a TV phase on the time of Touchdown’s relocation.
There’s additionally a specific irony to Touchdown’s restructuring as a result of Smith, a Birmingham native, had lengthy been an enormous Birmingham booster. A highschool dropout, Smith constructed his earlier enterprise, grocery supply agency Shipt, within the metropolis, and had helped discovered Birmingham Sure, a corporation designed to draw tech startups. “I’m actually captivated with Birmingham and making Birmingham a greater place to reside,” Smith instructed Forbes this summer season.
To lure Touchdown, the state of Alabama supplied an annual refundable credit score of 4% of the brand new Alabama-only jobs payroll as a efficiency, pay-as-you-go incentive. The corporate might be topic to clawbacks of these incentives if it failed to succeed in a minimal of 784 jobs in Birmingham by the top of 2026, Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield instructed Forbes by e-mail. Nevertheless, the Division of Commerce’s expectation is that Touchdown will proceed so as to add jobs within the state over time.
“The layoffs introduced have been represented as a restructuring of centralized operational positions into decentralized areas inside the markets Touchdown is serving,” Canfield wrote. “Restructuring on this method isn’t an unusual enterprise observe and we anticipate Touchdown will return to job-growth mode in Birmingham over the near- to mid-term.”
Smith stated within the e-mail that he remained “assured” Touchdown might meet the long-term objectives that had been set to obtain the incentives. “We stay deeply dedicated to Birmingham’s success and progress as an rising tech hub, and we worth the continued partnership,” he wrote.
Smith, 36, made a fortune together with his earlier enterprise, on-line grocery supply service Shipt, which he offered to Goal
Touchdown doesn’t personal the flats it rents, however leases them from mega-landlords like American Landmark and Northwood Ravin and outfits them with its personal furnishings and furnishings solely after a would-be tenant expresses curiosity. That on-demand enterprise mannequin retains Touchdown’s prices low because the empty flats are off its stability sheet, however it additionally raises operational questions on how you can deal with conditions the place would-be tenants need flats which might be now not obtainable, in addition to how you can arrange and clear these flats effectively.
Former workers instructed Forbes the job cuts have been significantly painful due to the fast hiring in Mexico Metropolis. Touchdown’s managers traveled to Mexico to coach the brand new workers whereas its profession board listed open roles for home-quality specialists and customer-service representatives on the identical time the corporate was letting individuals go. “Every thing had been going to Mexico for months,” a former Touchdown worker stated.
Touchdown first arrange operations in Mexico in 2020 and a complete of 100 individuals labored there previous to the restructuring, in response to Smith. As a part of the reorganization, he stated the agency created 14 new roles in Mexico and eradicated seven there. Whereas the corporate rents furnished flats on versatile leases in quite a few U.S. cities, and has been particularly fashionable in Sunbelt locales like Phoenix and Las Vegas, it doesn’t presently supply leases in Mexico Metropolis. “Our imaginative and prescient for Touchdown is to create a world model for versatile residing,” Smith wrote within the e-mail to Forbes. “As we’ve scaled the corporate, we’ve constructed a world workforce with workers in a number of international locations, Mexico included.”
On the time of the layoffs, Smith stated that Touchdown’s income projection for this yr—$200 million, up from $83 million final yr—remained unchanged. The corporate, which Forbes profiled this summer season as a part of this yr’s Subsequent Billion-Greenback Startups checklist, raised $237 million in enterprise funding from Foundry Group, Greycroft and others at a current valuation of $475 million. Its most up-to-date spherical of funding occurred simply months earlier than the layoffs.