Pluralsight, a Utah tech “unicorn” that laid off 400 staffers earlier this month citing a “challenging economic climate,” has told employees that some of those jobs were moving to India — and that the authors creating its courses would now be paid less, according to information obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune.
Chad Utley, the company’s senior vice president of skills content development, told the company’s authors in a video call this week that those changes were part of a restructuring to “position the business for future success” after the company’s “poor performance,” as well as this year’s “macroeconomic conditions.”
“This has certainly challenged us to be more efficient with the resources that we do have,” Utley said, “in order to achieve our targets as we move into 2023.”
The jobs set to move to India include teams that support the “author home product,” like “author opportunities, author analytics, as well as author expertise,” Utley said. Pluralsight describes its thousands of authors as “proven experts” who " provide the content needed to take your skills to the next level.”
Pluralsight, which sells subscriptions to its training software and online classes, was at least the fourth Utah-based “unicorn” — a private startup valued at more than $1 billion — to cut employees in the fourth quarter of 2022, following Route and Podium earlier this month and MX in October. Those cuts came after layoffs had already rippled through Utah companies, particularly affecting tech positions.
CEO Aaron Skonnard told workers in a blog post that a “challenging economic environment” grew worse in the last quarter of the year and necessitated the staff reduction and restructuring.
“As your CEO, I own this outcome and take full responsibility for the decisions that got us here,” he said.
A call and email to Pluralsight were not immediately returned on Friday.
Utley said Pluralsight has spent the last year building “technical teams” in India, and that the company expects to transition the author support teams there in the first half of 2023. He did not say how many jobs the company will add in India.
This week, the company listed openings for an India-based talent acquisition specialist, software engineer, and managers in business development and product and technical support. All but three of the 35 jobs openings listed on the company’s website are based in India.
Utley also told authors that the company is “updating revenue attribution” this month to “more accurately tie” author payouts to video viewership. He said that “revenue attribution is simply determining the breakdown in subscription revenues tied to author-generated video content, and all the other features Pluralsight develops and sells to its customers.”
As the company has grown, Utley said, its customers are asking for less videos and more “hands-on experiences.” He said, for instance, business customers want more features to assess skills their employees are learning from Pluralsight products.
“And as a result, we do anticipate a decrease of approximately 25% to revenue attributable to video content. We recognize the timing of the shift will never be optimal,” he said, “but I want to note we do not currently anticipate this type of a significant shift in the future.”
According to the job-posting site Indeed.com, the average pay for an author at Pluralsight is $80,850 a year. That varies widely, based on how many courses an author creates.
Utley said the company will now spend more to create those assessment features for courses, which he said show customers “where they have gaps and where they have needs, and then how to address those.”
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. The move allowed two investment funds who sued to pursue some of their claims in federal court. Pluralsight has denied wrongdoing.
Pluralsight announced it had been acquired by Vista Equity Partners In April 2021, 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.
In 2017, 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. 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.
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