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Yahoo to lay off all journalists, social media executives in Singapore

Samantha Chiew and Jovi Ho
Samantha Chiew and Jovi Ho • 4 min read
Yahoo to lay off all journalists, social media executives in Singapore
Yahoo is retrenching its editorial team in Singapore and changing its editorial direction. Photo: Bloomberg
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Yahoo is letting go of its editorial and social media teams in Singapore. In total, 17 staff will leave the digital news publication after May 7, The Edge Singapore understands. 

One affected employee had worked at Yahoo for more than 15 years. Affected staff will receive slightly more than two weeks’ pay per year of service, according to a source who has requested to remain anonymous as the matter is private. 

The Edge Singapore understands that affected staff had met with a representative from human resources on April 23. Simon Wheeler, Yahoo’s senior director of content, Australia and Southeast Asia, was also present at the meetings.

Affected staff were told that Yahoo is changing its editorial strategy and will no longer create any original content from Singapore. Instead, Yahoo is hiring three “curation editors” and a market lead for Yahoo News Singapore under its new strategy, which will focus on syndicated content. 

Newsrooms contributing syndicated content to Yahoo include HuffPost, AFP News, Reuters, EdgeProp and The Edge Singapore, among others.  

Affected staff were told that they can apply for the new roles, which are remote, according to Yahoo’s job listings on LinkedIn. 

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One affected employee said there was no mention that the company is looking to cut costs, or why the company had decided on this editorial strategy. 

The Edge Singapore understands that Yahoo holds “open houses” monthly, where leaders share business updates. No financial figures were shared at the last town hall on April 19. There was no indication then that the company would be enacting a fresh round of layoffs in Singapore, says an affected employee. 

“We didn’t expect these [layoffs] and it happened at a weird time in April. For us, everything has been business as usual and we didn’t hear any news of a possible retrenchment. We did hear of a retrenchment round in Yahoo US a couple of months ago and did think that some markets that did not do well may face the same consequences,” says one affected employee.

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Meanwhile, The Edge Singapore understands that Yahoo’s sales team in Singapore is not affected by this round of retrenchment. While the team has stopped selling advertorial content, it is also not focused on selling branded content. 

Affected staff are on two weeks’ notice until their last day of employment on May 7.

According to Singapore’s main labour legislation — the Employment Act — minimum notice periods for retrenched employees range from one day for those who had been working for the employer for less than 26 weeks to four weeks for those who had served at least five years.

The Edge Singapore has reached out to Yahoo for comment.

In 2022, Yahoo laid off seven journalists based in Singapore. Among them was former senior editor Nicholas Yong, who had joined Yahoo in 2014. 

Prior to that, Yahoo’s last reported retrenchment exercise here was in 2016. Among those affected then was Yahoo Singapore’s former editor-in-chief, the late Marc Lourdes. 

Global layoffs

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Yahoo was a search engine pioneer that was the default web portal for many before Google exerted its dominance. Yahoo changed hands several times. It was previously owned by US telco Verizon, who took it private in 2017, and sold for US$5 billion in 2021 to private equity firm Apollo Global. 

In February 2023, Yahoo’s global headquarters in the US announced that it will eliminate about 1,600 jobs — or 20% of its total workforce then — as part of its efforts to restructure its advertising tech division and phase out its supply-side platform (SSP), which sold ad space on websites and apps. 

Yahoo chief executive officer Jim Lanzone said the company’s job cuts were due more to the division’s restructuring than troubles in the ad market. Lanzone said the sunsetting of the unprofitable SSP business will be “tremendously beneficial for the profitability of Yahoo overall”.

The company aimed to halve the workforce of its ad-tech division, previously called Yahoo For Business, by the end of 2023. Yahoo’s restructuring led to a new division called Yahoo Advertising, which focused ad sales teams on the company’s properties, including Yahoo Finance, Yahoo News and Yahoo Sports. 

Lanzone told US news site Axios in June 2023 that Yahoo could one day IPO again.

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