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More layoffs at L.A. tech company Spot Runner

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The economy hasn’t been kind to many companies (the L.A. Times among them) that have been forced to lay off staff as advertising revenue shrinks. This includes one-time start-up hot shot Spot Runner, the L.A. company that was created to help small businesses make ads and place them on TV.

Spot Runner today laid off 115 people, just under 30% of its staff, 12 weeks after it fired 50 workers. Today’s layoffs were first reported by PaidContent.

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‘There’s been an unprecedented change in the economic climate, and we are anticipating a change in the demand for advertising services,’ Spot Runner spokeswoman Rosabel Tao said. ‘We wanted to get ahead of the advertising changes.’

Spot Runner will return to its core business of helping companies create video ads and get them in front of consumers, Tao said. In March, it acquired online ad firm Weblistic, which sold local ads, but Tao said that division would be downsized.

During the last round of layoffs, the company said it planned to hire 60 more employees. It has hired about half of that number, Tao said. ‘The world has changed a lot in the last six weeks or so,’ she said.

Although Spot Runner anticipates a difficult advertising climate in 2009, Tao said there was reason to be optimistic. The company is upgrading its measurement tools to help advertisers better evaluate their returns on investment and working on technology to streamline the way TV advertising is planned, bought and sold, Tao said.

Besides, Spot Runner raised $51 million in May, from investors such as Groupe Arnault/LVMH and Legg Mason Capital Management. Even if the world ends, the company still has a lot of cash. ‘The upside is we’re in a very strong financial position,’ Tao said.

-- Alana Semuels


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