Talent agency WME will cut its workforce by about 20 per cent, continuing a difficult stretch for parent company Endeavor that has been sharply heightened by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The staff cuts will include all personnel at all levels and all departments, including the agency’s sports representation business, and follow a cut of 250 people in March at Endeavor. At that time, Endeavor chief executive Ari Emanuel indicated more job losses would be coming and the company later announced that a third of the company’s 7,500 employees across its holdings would be affected by cost-cutting measures, and that has now reached WME.
“WME is reducing its workforce by approximately 20 per cent as a result of Covid-19’s impact upon our business,” the agency said in a statement. “We appreciate the contributions of our former colleagues, and out of respect for their privacy, we will not be commenting on the status of specific employees. While we are making these difficult decisions now to safeguard our business, we believe in the resilience of our team and our industry.”
The moves continues a turbulent period for Endeavor. After pulling its planned US initial public offering last fall, the company has seen its credit rating downgraded. Endeavor holdings the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Professional Bull Riders, meanwhile, have been among the most aggressive to resume competition amid the public health crisis as it seeks to drive revenue and address its substantial debt.
Variety reported that Endeavor executive chairman Patrick Whitesell, Emanuel’s partner leading the company, will be taking a more hands-on role overseeing WME. But both Whitesell and Emanuel face a series of challenges following that failed IPO and driving revenue for a business that is heavily dependent on live events that are now not happening. Both Whitesell and Emanuel are forgoing their entire salaries during the pandemic.
Numerous other Hollywood talent agencies have also been undergoing their own series of staff cuts, furloughs, and pay reductions.
Endeavor is also set to sell part of its stake in US video game and software developer Epic Games, producer of the hugely popular Fortnite title.