In case you missed - Airtable announcement from Dec 2022 to employees about change for direction at Airtable

I missed this. Well. I don’t usually frequent PR pages of software tools I use since I don’t own any Airtable stock shares. But I am quite deeply entrenched in this product with a few applications and moving to anything would be painful and time-consuming process. So for anybody who is looking at Airtable or other potential solutions like SmartSuite or Coda, should be aware Airtable is going through some transition and the Airtable that comes out of it may be a very different one.

Here is the PR statement from the company from December 2022 and it gives some hints about what is going on there, it’s not just downsizing but a complete shakeup.

Read Howie Liu’s message to Airtable employees

Today we’re announcing a major evolution for Airtable: taking us from our roots as a primarily bottoms-up adopted product serving teams at organizations of many sizes, to a company that is focused on bringing connected apps to large enterprises. With this new focus, we’ve made the difficult choice to reduce our team by 254 people and evolve our organizational structure.

These steps are not a reflection of this team’s important work in building Airtable to date, but about what our organization needs going forward. As founders, Andrew and I are responsible for these decisions and the path that led us here. For those who are leaving, we deeply appreciate your contributions in getting Airtable to this stage. We are truly sorry to part ways.

You will receive an email within the next few minutes with details about your individual status. In the meantime, I wanted to share more detail on what’s happening and why.

Strengthening our focus on enterprise

Airtable’s early success was driven by bottoms-up adoption across organizations of all shapes and sizes, and we benefited from an extraordinary amount of organic growth. We discovered enterprises increasingly adopted Airtable for critical workflows built around high-value datasets, often stretching across entire departments rather than at a team level. This part of our business has become increasingly exciting and differentiated – not only in terms of our growth metrics but also in the way enterprise customers are realizing organization-wide value from connected apps. Enterprise, which makes up the majority of our revenue, is growing more than 100% YoY with best-in-class of NDR of 170%.

We’ve rapidly expanded and executed on multiple fronts. At the time, I believed we could successfully pursue all of them in parallel. However, in taking a hard look at our efforts in the current market environment, we’ve identified the teams best positioned to capture the opportunity in enterprise in order to bring complete focus, alignment, and accountability in our execution.

Specifically, this will require two shifts for our business.

First, we will devote the majority of our resources toward landing and expanding large enterprise companies with at least 1k FTEs – where our connected apps vision will deliver the most differentiated value. Builders will be able to create apps that are not only extremely intuitive and delightful for end users, but powerful in breaking down data silos across their organizations.

Second, we have looked at each team across the organization and identified areas where we could narrow our focus and operate in a more lean fashion. This follows a thorough review of non-people spending where we have already begun reducing our spending in areas like marketing media, real estate, business technology, and infrastructure. In trying to do too many things at once, we have grown our organization at a breakneck pace over the past few years. We will continue to emphasize growth, but do so by investing heavily in the levers that yield the highest growth relative to their cost.

Together, these updates will allow us to operate more cautiously in this economic environment. Although we are fortunate to be well-capitalized and have strong enterprise revenue growth with low churn and high rates of expansion, being a lean organization becomes doubly important in times of economic uncertainty.

Saying thank you and farewell to colleagues

None of this background makes up for the fact that layoffs are an incredibly painful experience for those who are impacted. I want everyone who is leaving to know that we are grateful for all of your contributions in building this company, and we will provide the following resources to support you during this transition. Those outside the US will receive similar offerings with differences based on local laws and employment standards.

  • Severance pay and compensation: You’ll receive a minimum of 16 weeks of pay, with an additional 2 weeks for every full year of service.
  • Accelerated equity vesting: You’ll receive 60 days of accelerated time-based vesting of Airtable RSUs, and if you’ve been here less than one year, we will remove the one-year vesting cliff.
  • Continued benefits: You’ll receive the cash equivalent of 6 months of existing healthcare premium coverage, along with an additional cash payment to cover other Airtable-provided benefits for the next 60 days.
  • Transition support: You can keep your Airtable-provided laptop and related equipment to help you find a future opportunity as quickly as possible. We will also provide career transition support and create an alumni directory for those who want to stay connected.
  • Immigration support: If you have a visa, we’ll connect you with our immigration counsel to discuss your status and structure your severance offering to provide additional time for you to find your next opportunity.

Each departing employee will receive additional information via email, along with an invitation to a 1:1 to meet with a leader and get their questions answered.

Moving forward with a new organizational structure

For those who are staying on with Airtable, we will gather tomorrow at All Hands and in the next week to reset and move forward.

One immediate update we’ll discuss is a new organizational structure aligned to these evolutions in our business. Following many thoughtful conversations with each of our leaders about this more narrowly focused mode of execution, we’ve mutually decided with JJ, Peter, and Seth to part ways. After guiding our people, product, and CE functions through our most recent phase, they’ll be departing today and advising us during this transition. We’ll introduce Marta, Andrew, and Kevin as the new leaders of these functions at tomorrow’s All Hands.

I recognize this is a lot of change all at once and ask for your patience as we navigate these updates to our business. We will follow up in the coming days with more context on how we plan to execute on the opportunity ahead.

In the meantime, I’m encouraging everyone to take care of yourself, support your colleagues, and continue doing right by our customers who rely on Airtable every day.

Thanks for sharing. Even though this was about the layoffs half a year ago, it still feels relevant.

Here’s a few bits that stood out to me.

  • Their focus is on Enterprise customers with at least a thousand full time employees. These large customers make up the majority of Airtable’s revenue. If you have any other account (small enterprise, pro, plus, free) don’t expect much attention. On the other hand, if you are part of a company with over a thousand employees, but your company has not adopted Airtable across the board, you have leverage.

  • Airtable grew rapidly, tried to do too many different things all at once, and wasn’t able to deliver on all of them. We don’t know the specifics of what got scaled back, but any features that Airtable hinted about working on before the layoffs could have been axed. In contrast, new features that were announced after the layoffs (such as increased record limits for Enterprise accounts) are more likely to come to fruition.

  • I hope that everyone who was laid off has managed to find a new position where they feel valued.

which is why so many folks are moving to (;

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Admittedly, SmartSuite has my attention… they have recently added features that I requested Airtable to add years and years ago.

But also, I can’t help but not want to fall into the same Vendor trap again, and question whether I just roll my own solutions now I’ve expanded my node.js expertise and various cloud services.

But then again, sometimes I just need to get work done and not build another framework to get said work done.

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Once SmartSuite can import from Airtable I would consider. I didn’t know what SmartSuite was until that guy party crasher came pitching his wares in the “My airtable pains thread”. I guess if he would have communicated better I wouldn’t feel like he came to eat my lunch :grinning:

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This should not be your deciding factor. You need to run the numbers.

Imagine a switch from product (a) to product (b) requires 200 conversion hours but in so doing, it enables you to save 30 minutes each day and expand your service ceiling 200% while eliminating three key technical constraints. Double the size, improve the performance, eliminate technical roadblocks and all with a complex and painful conversion resulting in 2.5 hours back on your calendar to be home in time to have dinner with the kids every night.

How would you compute a go or no-go for this scenario?

Is this true? I recall running the numbers, and I thought Pro accounts generated far more than enterprise customers.

Is it me? Or did I hallucinate a recent 200-comment thread on the Airtable community that reflected precisely the opposite of this sentiment?

Under the Strengthening our focus on enterprise heading, first paragraph, last sentence:

Enterprise, which makes up the majority of our revenue, is growing more than 100% YoY with best-in-class of NDR of 170%.

Maybe at one point pro accounts generated more revenue, but no more. Those are pretty impressive YoY and NDR numbers. Looks like they opened lots of enterprise accounts, existing enterprise accounts added users, and that large enterprise is continuing to be the focus, per this quote a few paragraphs later.

First, we will devote the majority of our resources toward landing and expanding large enterprise companies with at least 1k FTEs

What means NDR and FTE?

NDR: Net Dollar Retention (revenue change due to existing customers versus new customers)
FTE: Full Time Employees
YoY: Year over Year

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Percentages are not money. Year-over-what exactly?

Well, the wording is a bit ambiguous, but if we take out the relative clause, we get

Enterprise … is growing more than 100% YoY.
Enterprise … [has] NDR of 170%.

NDR is money.
And I expect that the 100% YoY growth could be number of enterprise accounts, number of enterprise users, or enterprise revenue. Airtable doesn’t publish the cost of Enterprise accounts, although we know that there are discounts for more users. But we know that costs are still user based, so a growth in users points to a growth in money.

Actually, NDR is money not unless you define “customer”. Is 170% NDR based on only enterprise customers or all customers? And if the latter, what percentage and quantity of new customers are enterprise seats vs pro seats? Further, this number has no meaning until you know the average revenue per enterprise seat.

You can have a 170% NDR with a customer base of just one customer who has 100 seats (at $10/seat) and who then adds 70 more seats.

You cannot know anything definitive with the data available. As with most Wall Street-driven companies, the CEO is not being transparent about actual operations or revenues. As a private company, there is no obligation to do so. And as such, there is no way to know if what they say is true or fiction. My experience is that this narrative is likely to be misleading and has all the red flags of a strategy that has not materialized, and likely their enterprise attraction is still a vision. If this were actually the reality, they would be printing press releases at a good pace. Their newsroom mentions nothing about enterprise wins, clearly an indication there aren’t many worth mentioning.

While more data could provide more clarity, I think this statement is pretty clear:

Enterprise, which makes up the majority of our revenue

They make more money from Enterprise than from Pro. We don’t know how much more. We don’t know if they make more from Enterprise due to number of users or price per user. We don’t know how that income compares to expenses. But I don’t see how this statement is compatible with the idea that Airtable might make more money off of Pro than Enterprise.

I thought it was clear that enterprise is still the target.

Or they could have enterprise agreements that state that they are not allowed to make press releases about it. Some large enterprise companies might not want the public to know how heavily invested they are in Airtable.

That part is crystal clear. I’m referring to actual traction in enterprise sales.

And how is this a known fact?

Indeed, but all of them? Most Fortune 2000 enterprises are delighted to get press.

I’m just applying my knowledge of the English language to the press release. I don’t have proof that the press release is factual. Maybe I’m naïve in believing a press release. I know that companies lie in their press releases, but I’d like to think that Airtable is telling the truth (even if its also obscuring the truth at the same time).

Can you share a link?

The only number in that press message is the number of people being laid off. I see nothing about sales or anything related to revenues concerning enterprise customers.