Last valued at $5 billion, restaurant management platform Toast has joined the sweep of startups laying off employees due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Toast reduced the size of its staff by 50% through layoffs and furloughs, according to a blog post from Toast’s CEO, Chris Comparato. It also reduced executive pays across the board, frozen hiring, halted bonuses, and pulled back offers.
The company’s flagship product helps restaurants process payments and handle orders through a mix of hardware and software. Think handheld ordering pads, self-service kiosks, and display systems for kitchens. It also connects businesses to food delivery services like Grubhub.
Toast sits on the bridge between two industries in the spotlight, for better or worse, right now: restaurants and fintech. But restaurants have been hit hard as eateries were forced to close down due to state mandates, or to simply promote social distancing. As a result, fintech companies that help restaurants work better and depend on foot traffic are seeing less transaction volume.
Comparato, in the blog post, cited how restaurant revenue broadly took a huge hit in March, which naturally trickled down to Toast’s operations.
“With limited visibility into how quickly the industry may recover, and facing slower than anticipated growth, we now find ourselves in the unenviable position of reducing our headcount,” he wrote. He noted that before the pandemic hit, Toast revenue grew 109 percent in 2019. In an interview with Crunchbase News in February, chief financial officer Tim Barash said that the company’s goal in the next few years is to go public.
The Toast employees laid off were offered a “severance package, benefits coverage, mental health support, and an extended window during which they can purchase vested stock options,” the blog post detailed. Toast is also developing a program to help those laid off or furloughed look for new roles, a move that mimics other efforts we’ve seen across the startup world.
Investors in Toast include TCV, Tiger Global Management, Bessemer Venture Partners and T. Rowe Price Associates.