Online clothing retailer ModCloth, which specializes in vintage designs, recently laid off 15 percent of its staff, or approximately 70 employees, TechCrunch reports. The layoffs affected employees at all three company offices, in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh.
Last year, Fast Company named ModCloth one of its “Most Innovative Companies 2013,” and reported that the company was growing at over 50 percent annually. Founders Eric Koger and Susan Greg Koger also recently raised over $25 million, funding an expansion of the company.
Perhaps the cuts are a sign that the expansion was an overreach.
ModCloth told TechCrunch last year that it saw more than $100 million in revenue and was increasing its focus on mobile. That publication posits that the cuts “represent an effort at restructuring and consolidation” but don’t indicate “a broader shift in direction.” They also point out that, despite the cuts, ModCloth is still hiring.
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Since launching a social media contest on July 7, fashion brand John Varvatos and agency Yard raised $2,317 for the Ringo Starr Peace & Love Fund. The #PeaceRocks effort is part of a bigger marketing deal that capitalizes on The Beatles drummer’s famous peace sign.
The fashion label’s social campaign uses the #PeaceRocks hashtag to spur photo sharing on Instagram, Twitter, Vine and Facebook. In exchange for tagging a picture with the hashtag, the brand will donate $1 to the Ringo Starr Peace & Love Fund. The cause is part of the David Lynch Foundation that provides meditation resources and runs through Dec. 31.
John Varvatos also launched a YouTube video with Ringo Starr as part of the effort. The spot has been viewed more than 27,000 times since July 7. Milkt’s fashion photographer Danny Clinch directed the campaign’s video and images.
“Initially the idea behind the video was to create a modern version of a drum circle. At first, we were going to use character actors to take their crack at the drums and then reveal Ringo,” explained Stephen Niedzwiecki, founder and chief creative officer at Yard. “But then, with John’s help and relationships, we began replacing them with celebrities. And they were all up for it, as we had a charity component to the campaign. So, as much as they were supporting the brand, they were supporting Ringo’s cause. It shows the power of music and how it can bring people together to create good and positive energy. The drums are powerful instruments.”
The campaign’s assets are pulled together into a microsite that aggregates all of the social photos. A paid media buy includes print, online and out-of-home media in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas.
Take a look at the video below.
Stock media site Pond5 has been known for providing royalty-free content for mainstream TV and film projects like AMC’s The Walking Dead and movies such as Iron Man, Thor and Dallas Buyers Club. Ad agencies have taken advantage of its offerings, including Global Hue in its infamous Bob Dylan Super Bowl Chrysler ad. And, producer Ryan Lewis and Macklemore have used Pond5 clips in the Same Love music video and other projects.
But with video production blossoming online, CEO Tom Bennett said—in order for the company to stay relevant—it hopes to expand from a business-to-business clientele to appeal to a creator-to-creator (or C2C) online video market, growing its user base of app developer, YouTube and digital producers in general. While it’s entering a space already populated by strong competitors like Shutterstock, Bennett believes there’s plenty of room.
“For the first time in human history, virtually everybody has access to the tools to produce, consume, and distribute video and other rich media, so the market for stock media is growing at an incredible clip,” he explained. “For anybody producing media, stock footage and other pre-created elements allow them to do it more quickly and less expensively, and with a much broader set of creative options.”
On Wednesday, the New York-based company announced that it raised $61 million in equity financing from venture capital and private equity firms Accel Partners and Stripes Group. Accel Partners vp John Locke said it had been trying to invest in the stock media outlet for quite some time.
“Major film studios and TV networks don’t have a stranglehold on great video content anymore as evidenced by the success of YouTube channels, Netflix, Vox, Vice, etc.,” he said. “And Pond5 is enabling all of these emerging producers to put out rich content without huge production budgets.”
Bennett added that the new funds will go toward doubling the Pond5 team over the next year. The player hopes to focus on improving its product, building its collection and increasing marketing for its artist clients.
“We will continue to focus on what we’ve been doing for the past eight years, but hopefully be able to move a little more quickly,” he said. “We have a number of product updates planned for, including a revamped mobile app and improved tools for sellers.”
What appeared to be a run-of-the-mill rebranding story yesterday with Airbnb has taken a strange turn toward either memories of elementary school anatomy/sex-ed class or pre-Giuliani Times Square. Indeed, the Internet had a lot of fun with what the two b’s in the brand might actually stand for.
The digital home renting service unveiled a new logo called Belo on Wednesday that generated considerable blogosphere chatter around whether the mark looked like female or male private parts. (Vagina, though, seems to be the prevailing choice.) More than likely, that’s not what Airbnb intended.
What’s more, Freelancer.com jumped on the often-humorous development by starting an Airbnb logo redesign contest with a $500 prize. At the time of this posting, 630 submissions had been turned in. And original Web series It Could Be Worse has purchased Promoted Tweets around the “Airbnb vagina” phrase.
San Francisco-based Airbnb declined to comment on the brouhaha. So Adweek asked branding experts what the tech player should do next.
“You know what they say, beauty/filth is in the mind of the beholder,” said Robert Passikoff, psychologist and founder of the Brand Keys. “As to re-design, I’d suggest not to. Whether it’s balls, a butt, breasts, or a vagina, it’s their logo [that] seems extendable. And it’s doing exactly what a logo is supposed to do—get attention and identify a company.”
Ben Hordell, partner, DXagency, added: “The question of whether the logo is sexual or not is the beauty of Airbnb’s redesign. They serve a global community from all walks of life, and at the core of their brand is a sense of fun, adventure and even promiscuity. I initially saw the letter ‘A.’ But after more exploration, I saw all sorts of human anatomy.”
Well, should Airbnb redesign—again?
“Absolutely not,” Hordell said. “The world is talking about the brand. What more can you ask for? People will seek out the true meaning and story behind the logo and the brand.”
Sam Becker, creative director at Brand Union, had a more nuanced reaction to Airbnb’s situation.
“There are a million ways to handle something like this badly,” he said. “Ignore it, and you’ll appear out of touch. Deny it, and you’ll alienate yourselves from your community, adding fuel to the fire. So far, Airbnb has done an excellent job responding to these observations with lighthearted acknowledgement. They’ve also continued to back the brand with confidence. Showing any weakness at this point would be tantamount to giving up. Once past this logo adolescence, the mark will have a chance to stand for everything Airbnb and its customers want it to.”
Becker also mentioned how Airbnb was temporarily embroiled on Wednesday in a controversy about whether it had stolen its new logo from Automation Anywhere, a small tech player. But the two companies quickly put that notion to rest with a joint statement.
Meanwhile, logo-gate has created plenty of comedians.
“This is like the story of the psychiatrist giving a patient an ink blot test,” Passikoff from Brand Keys said. “Every time the [doctor] shows the patient another blot, the patient tells the doctors it portrays some sexual act. The [doctor] finally says, ‘Everything seems to remind you of sex.’ And the patient says, ‘What do you mean? You’re the one with the dirty pictures!”
Check out several of the more clever reactions from Twitter users below. To be clear, the first one is a fictitious creation—TechCrunch did not post such an article.
My new startup just got some great coverage! http://ift.tt/1nPbnYq
— Dave Pell (@davepell) July 16, 2014
A Visual Guide to Vaginas, So No One Ever Compares The Airbnb Logo To A Vagina Again (NSFW) http://t.co/SJKotkhHf5
— Fast Company (@FastCompany) July 17, 2014
Omg I stepped out of the shower and the AirBnB logo appeared on my bathroom window. http://ift.tt/1nPbnYr
— Steve Kovach (@stevekovach) July 17, 2014
— Jason Yu (@jhyu) July 16, 2014
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) July 16, 2014
Tough afternoon for me — I showed someone the new Airbnb logo and was arrested for indecent exposure
— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) July 16, 2014
Airbnb’s new logo is genius — even if it does look like a mash-up of human genitalia http://t.co/oOXEmUCwMk
— Salon.com (@Salon) July 17, 2014
Airbnb’s new logo: Another sign of Silicon Valley’s “vagina blindness” or Georgia O’Keefe-brilliant? http://t.co/VXK7XsTOpC
— ReadWrite (@RWW) July 17, 2014