Giannis Antetokounmpo Backed Media Company Slashes Third of It’s Staff

Sports media startup Wave Sports and Entertainment (WSE) has laid off 56 people—roughly one-third of its staff—as worsening economic conditions continue to hit tech startups. WSE produces sports video content that it publishes on social media platforms such as Snap, TikTok and Facebook, reaching more than 115 million followers globally, according to the company. Its brands—which include BUCKETS, FTBL, and HAYMAKERS—offer sports highlights, commentary and athlete profiles, among other digital content.

The Santa Monica-based company began laying off workers last week, the company confirmed to dot.LA. A WSE spokesperson said the “restructuring” will allow the firm to focus on “core areas of expertise” like storytelling and league partnerships, with most of the eliminated roles coming from “supporting functions.” The layoffs, first reported by Insider, leave the company with 110 employees.

The startup is only several months removed from announcing a $27 million Series B funding round in February, which attracted investors like private equity firm TZP Group and venture capital firm Crossbeam Venture Partners. Star athletes have also been drawn to WSE’s platform; Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo joined the company’s Series B round as a “strategic partner,” while other athlete-investors include Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and former Duke University basketball star Jay Williams.

The company is far from the only tech firm—from giants Netflix and Snap to startups like Albert—that has slashed staff or slowed hiring in recent months amid increasingly precarious economic conditions. Privately-backed companies have cited a pullback in venture funding behind their need to cut costs, with private investors now also feeling the pain of a stock market that officially fell into bear market territory on Monday.