Oyster.com Shifts To Freelance Model Amidst Rumors Of Layoffs

We’ve been hearing buzz all morning that Oyster.com, the travel review portal that is transitioning into hotel-transaction site, is letting go of its editorial staff, including the site’s executive editor, as well as a staffer in business development.

We reached out to Oyster CEO Elie Seidman, who explained that the site was shifting to a freelance model (which may result in an expanded pool of reviewers) and that the recent layoffs are not connected to the site’s transition:

We’ve been on hiatus from doing new reviews for the past few months but are now ready to spool up again. We have ended our staff reporter model but are actually now doing more reviews again. After carefully assessing the economics of the staff reporter model, we’ve migrated from a staff reviewer model to a freelance model. The caveat is that the people eligible to be freelance reviewers for Oyster is limited to those who have reviewed for us in the past; we require that all reviewers review at least 20 hotels a year so that they have an expertise doing our reviews. I expect that with this change, we will also expand the pool of reviewers.

While there will be an impact, the precise nature of the impact of this change on the future role for Scott Medintz at Oyster (he’s our current EE) is not yet determined.

The relationship between this content model change and adding transactional capabilities to Oyster is coincidental.

Seidman added that Oyster views its forthcoming transactional capabilities as “an addition of functionality to make the reviews more useful” to the site’s visitors.