Esports unicorn MPL lays off 100 employees, exits Indonesia market

Affected employees with ESOP holdings will be given an opportunity to hold onto their options for an additional 10 years, the startup said.

Esports unicorn Mobile Premier League (MPL) is laying off 100 employees, about 10 percent of its workforce, according to an email sent by the startup to its employees.

“Our philosophy at MPL has always been to pay the best for the best and we will not dilute that,” Co-Founders Sai Srinivas and Shubham Malhotra wrote in the email, a copy of which was viewed by YourStory.

The Bengaluru-headquartered startup is also shutting down its Indonesia business due to lower returns than in India. It has also decided to wind up its streaming unit, as “the current business metrics do not justify us investing further into this unit,” the co-founders said.

According to the email, MPL will offer complete severance and other benefits to the employees affected by the decision. Those with ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) holdings will be given an opportunity to hold onto their options for an additional 10 years. 

“It’s gut-wrenching to kill a business, we personally hate it,” the founders said. “We have to be company first and do what’s needed keeping in mind the changing market trends. 

The startup pinned the blame on the "downturn in the private markets owing to high inflation and increased interest rates globally."

“The last few months have been insane. The philosophy of growth at all costs is now reversed,” the co-founders added. 

After a spectacular run in 2021, several companies are now bracing for a funding winter. Indian startups–including unicorns–have reportedly fired more than 8,000 employees in the last five months. Globally, tech giants including Meta, Uber, and Coinbase have also slowed down hiring.

“The market is now rewarding profitable growth over growth at all costs. It's imperative that we as a company respond to this change and respond fast. We have always said that the market is like a flowing river - you cannot fight it, you have to row downstream,” MPL co-founders said. 

The gaming platform was founded in Sai and Shubham in September 2018 and is backed by founders including Sequoia, Times Internet, GoVentures, and Beenext among others. It entered the unicorn club in September last year after raising $150 million in a Series E round. 

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti


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