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Furnished Apartment-Rental Firm Landing Restructures, Lays Off 110 Employees

Furnished apartment-rental startup Landing told employees today that it is restructuring and laying off 110 employees.

In a note to staff that he shared with Forbes, founder and CEO Bill Smith said that as the company scaled, it moved increasingly to a “field-based operating model” that required more people in the field and fewer at its Birmingham, Alabama, headquarters.

Over the past month, he wrote “nearly 70 of our existing team members have accepted new roles in field operations and moved across the country to live and work in the communities that we serve.” Meanwhile, as part of its restructuring, the company “reduced a number of roles at Landing, mostly on our central operations team,” he wrote. Smith told Forbes by email that 110 people were laid off. On Landing’s careers board, a number of listed jobs—for home-quality specialists and customer-service representatives—showed Mexico City locations.

Smith said that Landing’s revenue projection for this year—$200 million, up from $83 million last year—was unchanged.

A Birmingham, Alabama high school dropout, Smith, 36, had made a fortune with his previous business, online grocery delivery service Shipt, which he sold to Target
for $550 million in 2018. He founded Landing to appeal to people who wanted the flexibility to live in different places—and to move easily. It offered its members (who pay $199 a year) fast access to move-in-ready apartments with the flexibility to rent for as little as one month.

Landing, which we profiled as part of this year’s Next Billion-Dollar Startups list, raised $237 million in venture funding from Foundry Group, Greycroft and others at a recent valuation of $475 million.

But as WeWork’s rise and fall showed, there’s both huge potential in new models of real estate—and enormous risk. Which cities would have demand and potential profitability? How could he cut installation costs? Adjust pricing and marketing for seasonality? Smith, who owns roughly one-third of Landing, had been working to solve such complexities with data—and lots of it. “I get bored really easily,” he told Forbes in July. “I’m attracted to solving these complicated problems.”

In the note to staff, Smith wrote that the company had first built centralized team, then moved to the field-based strategy after realizing it wouldn’t scale.

In late-August, Casey Woo, who had been Landing’s chief financial officer, left the company. In an email last month, Woo, who had previously worked for WeWork, called his departure “mutual and very amicable.”

Competition in the short-term rental space has been increasing from companies that include New York City-based Blueground and San Francisco’s Zeus Living, as well as Airbnb and hotels that have pushed further into extended-stay options.

Landing’s restructuring and layoffs come as numerous tech startups, among them Bolt, Carvana and Klarna, have done layoffs this year.

This story is developing and will be updated

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