We Hear: Allison Johnson’s West Lays Off Most of Its Creative, Production Departments

By Patrick Coffee Comment

West, the San Francisco-based agency launched by former Apple marketing chief Allison Johnson with funding from Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, made some big changes this week.

We hear from multiple sources very close to the matter that the shop has effectively eliminated its entire San Francisco-based creative and production departments with the exception of chief creative officer Jordan Crane, who joined last summer after working as a design/creative director at Wolff Olins.

The agency–which recently announced that it was hiring for positions in New York and attracted some interest from the press last October for receiving $1.5 million for “consulting services” from Dorsey’s other company, Square–has effectively pivoted from being a marketing, design and strategy firm to focusing strictly on the latter two offerings.

Our sources tell us that 10-12 of the San Francisco office’s approximately 30 employees were laid off this week. (The creative department consisted of only 5-6 staffers at its peak, so most of the departing staffers worked on production and general marketing.)

Creatives who have worked at West include former Martin Agency/W+K CD Jeremy Lind and Steven Goldblatt, the GS&P/DDB veteran who joined the agency in late 2014 after leaving Mullen. Goldblatt has not been there for some time, and R/GA/Leo Burnett/AtmosphereBBDO veteran Jeremy Lind also left last year to work as a freelance CD at Grey San Francisco.

When the agency launched in 2011, AllThingsD called it “a new kind of marketing company” created to “help big companies and brands connect more effectively with smaller tech companies and burgeoning social networks.”

Clients have included tech startups like Munchery, Poynt and, most prominently, Jawbone.

Sources tell us that the main reason for this week’s layoffs was a decline in revenue as West attempted to raise money and address all of its clients’ various, evolving needs.

West’s business model relies on the agency negotiating for equity with some clients as part of its contracts, and our tipsters tell us that the shop has suffered from a general decline in capital at businesses in the tech startup space.

This downsizing appears to be part of an attempt to sustain the company by eliminating its marketing and production offerings.

We have reached out to West for comment and will update this post if/when we receive a response.

UPDATE: After an earlier version of this post called the agency “Jack Dorsey’s West,” an outside source clarified that Dorsey has been an investor in the business but never played any significant role in its daily operations.

Comments

Advertisement
Advertisement