Software company Unity has announced major layoffs for its digital effects subsidiary, Weta Digital, amidst a major “reset” for the company. Around 265 staff are set to lose their jobs in this overhaul, accounting for 3.8% of Unity’s entire workforce. While the changes were previously outlined in a shareholder letter, the decision to cut jobs at Weta Digital is unexpected.
Unity purchased Weta Digital inclusive of its talent, pipeline, and toolkit for US $1.63 billiion in 2021 – just two years ago. Per details listed in an SEC filing (via Ars Technica), Unity has now “terminated its obligations to provide certain services to Weta FX and also amended certain intellectual property rights between the parties” as it looks to cut costs company-wide.
Weta FX, sister to Weta Digital, will continue to operate as a separate company, and will reportedly attempt to hire as many employees from Weta Digital as it can. Unity will retain ownership of the Weta Digital pipeline and toolkit, which will likely be re-deployed in other parts of the business.
“Unity believes the Weta Digital team are remarkable, but Unity needs to become leaner as it focuses its expertise on its core business,” a spokesperson from Weta FX said of the layoffs, per FX Guide. “It also believes it makes more sense for Weta FX to own full end-to-end production activities directly. Unity will be focusing its expertise and people on other matters, and Weta FX will be getting support for its use of the Wētā Tools directly from its own crew – a shorter path which makes sense for both companies.”
In addition to laying off employees at Weta Digital, Unity has also announced significant changes for its global offices. 14 are set to close in the coming months, with employees transitioned to work from home conditions. Unity’s offices in Berlin and Singapore will close, and regional offices in Washington, San Francisco, and Bellevue will reportedly be impacted.
Unity has also confirmed further changes for the future, as it looks to maintain profitability.
“[The Unity] business model is enabled by the right product portfolio, the right initiatives and clear focus,” Unity interim CEO Jim Whitehurst recently said of these changes. “When executed with excellence, this business model is designed to deliver faster revenue growth, improved profitability metrics and increased free cash flow.”
Our thoughts are with those impacted by the layoffs at Weta Digital.