Utah tech layoffs continue, as yet another company valued over $1B sheds hundreds of workers

Pluralsight becomes at least the fourth Utah ‘unicorn’ to cut employees in recent weeks.

Pluralsight, one of Utah’s highest profile tech businesses, said it laid off 20% of its global workforce Monday, becoming the latest Silicon Slopes company valued at more than $1 billion to downsize.

The “challenging economic environment” faced by Pluralsight, which sells subscriptions to its training software and online classes, has grown more severe in the fourth quarter of the year, CEO Aaron Skonnard told workers in a Monday note.

“As a result, today we are restructuring and reducing the size of our team, impacting roughly 20% of our team members,” Skonnard wrote. “As your CEO, I own this outcome and take full responsibility for the decisions that got us here.”

The layoff affects about 400 employees, Pluralsight said in a statement to The Salt Lake Tribune. “We can also confirm that we are providing severance and benefits based on tenure with the business,” the company said.

Pluralsight becomes at least the fourth Utah “unicorn” — a private startup that becomes valued at more than $1 billion — to cut employees in recent weeks, following Route and Podium earlier this month and MX in October. And those cuts came after a series of layoffs had already rippled through Utah companies, particularly affecting tech positions.

In the statement, the Draper company said, “We believe these adjustments will allow us to operate more efficiently and allow us to continue our mission to advance the world’s technology workforce.”

Skonnard added: “I want to personally thank our departing team members for their many contributions to Pluralsight and wish them success in their next endeavor.”

One worker laid off Monday said the layoffs were not a surprise, as employees were aware that the company was not hitting internal benchmarks. “At the end of [the third quarter], we knew it was all hands on deck. And then the last couple of weeks, there was an inkling [of layoffs],” he said, “but nobody knew it was going to be this big.”

The employee, who asked not to be identified as he searches for another job, added he still believes in Pluralsight and thinks the staff reduction will help it “be a lot more solvent financially.”

Founded in 2004, Pluralsight became a public company in 2018, and had a net loss of $163.5 million in 2019 and $164 million in 2020, according to SEC documents.

A lawsuit alleging Pluralsight made misleading statements about its sales staff in 2019 was recently partially revived by the 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Denver, allowing two investment funds who sued to pursue some of their claims in federal court. Pluralsight has denied wrongdoing.

[Read more: Investors in Utah’s Pluralsight get a 2nd chance to prove an executive misled them while he was selling his stock]

In April 2021, Pluralsight announced it had been acquired by Vista Equity Partners, which meant its stock ceased trading and the company is no longer listed on any public stock market. Vista paid about $3.8 billion for the company, according to Pitchbook.

Pluralsight was offered a tax rebate deal worth up to $21 million if it met the terms of a contract with the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity to create 2,464 jobs over 10 years, beginning in 2017. A state database shows that as of March, Pluralsight had qualified for zero to 25% of that total tax credit.

Layoffs reduce the tax incentives offered to companies and can disqualify them from receiving a tax credit for a time period, the Office of Economic Opportunity has said.