June 19, 2024
German startup Pitch switches CEO and lays off two-thirds of its workforce

Pitch, the company behind a collaborative presentation software for businesses, is scaling back and bootstrapping, with CEO and co-founder Christian Reber stepping down and two-thirds of its employees losing their jobs.

This translates roughly to 80 personnel, based on the 120 headcount figure Pitch has published on its about page.

Reber made the announcement in a social media post earlier today, confirming that the company’s co-founder and CTO Adam Renklint will be stepping into the hot-seat with immediate effect, with Reber retaining a seat on the company board.

Founded in 2018, Berlin-based Pitch arrived in private beta back in 2019 with $30 million in funding, led by the creators of an app called Wunderlist which Microsoft bought in 2015. Pitch had raised north of $130 million in funding from the likes of Lakestar, Index Ventures and Tiger Global Management, supported by a slew of high-profile angels, including the founders of Instagram and Zoom.

Pitch in action

Pitch in action Image Credits: Pitch

As with just about every other VC-backed startup, Pitch has clearly faced challenging times in terms of maintaining growth and keeping their investors happy.

“As many of you know, being a venture-backed company in 2023 was insanely challenging,” Reber wrote. “We created sky-high expectations for our business, our employees, and ourselves as founders. Towards the end of last year, my co-founders and I noticed that those expectations were simply too high, and we decided that we wanted to take a new and completely different path for Pitch.”

Organic growth

Reber said in the post that rather than trying to build a “hyper-growth company” built on venture funding, it’s going back to the drawing board and pursuing profitability and then organic growth. This involved working with its investors about “resetting our company and cap table,” according to Reber, who stopped short of explaining exactly what that means.

However, TechCrunch confirmed with someone with knowledge of the situation that Pitch essentially returned all unspent cash to its investors pro rata, reducing the investors’ ownership stake in the process. This means that current and past employees (including all the founders) now own 80% of Pitch, while the company has enough cash to see it through a couple of years either to profitability, or to a point where it can sell at a lower price than its previous valuation (which was $600 million in 2021).

Part of this plan, of course, involves reducing its headcount significantly. And while the year is still young, today’s layoff news — alongside other recent layoffs — suggests that 2024 could be set to follow on from where 2023 left off.

“We know that a sustainable path has a much higher chance of success than the path we were on,” Reber added. “Going forward, we’ll be a significantly smaller team focused on creating maximum value for our customers and driving sustainable growth.”

*This article was updated to include more detail on the nature of Pitch’s cap table “reset.” 

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