A round of layoffs has hit gaming media outlet Fanbyte, which is owned by Tencent. This comes at a time when the Chinese tech giant is making cuts at its subsidiaries.

What happened?

  • On September 15, several Fanbyte employees shared the sad news on Twitter. It all started with editor-in-chief Danielle Riendeau, who announced her dismissal and said it has been a “true honor and pleasure” to be a part of this project.

  • Her message was followed by a post from John Warren, head of media at Fanbyte, who was also laid off yesterday.
  • “Will probably try to take a breath and figure out what I want to do but in the meantime I want to make sure everyone affected by media layoffs this week finds their footing,” he wrote.

  • As pointed out by Merritt K, one of the last people left on the Fanbyte team, the site is likely to focus on guides from now on, moving away from classic journalism.
  • Earlier this week, UK media outlet Future and gaming broadcaster G4TV were also affected by layoffs.

How many people were laid off?

  • Other people affected by layoffs include features editor Elise Favis, assisting managing editor Natalie Flores, social editor LB Hunktears, and senior editor Imran Khan.
  • “They laid me off while I was asleep in another country,” Khan wrote, adding that he is now willing to leave game journalism.

  • The exact number of affected employees remains unclear. But as can be seen in posts by Warren or Riendeau, at least a dozen people were affected.
  • According to Kotaku, the management is contacting staff one-by-one, with the number of affected people likely to grow.

How is Fanbyte related to Tencent?

  • Fanbyte was founded in 2018 as a place to cover live-service games, as well as publish news, articles, and guides.
  • However, the project existed before under the name of Zam, which provided guides for MMO titles like Everquest. ZAM Network also owns other online gaming communities dedicated to games such as World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy.
  • In 2012, Tencent acquired ZAM Network for an undisclosed sum. As a result, Fanbyte is positioned as a “wholly-owned subsidiary of Tencent Holdings Limited,” a Cayman Islands company that operates independently of its Chinese parent firm.
  • Tencent hasn’t commented on the latest layoffs, so there is no official explanation right now.
  • However, it is not the first time the company has cut staff this year. In August, Tencent laid off 5% of its employees, around 5,000 people.
  • This happened after China’s most valuable company reported a 3% decline in revenue for the second quarter of 2022. It is the first earning drop since Tencent went public in 2004.
  • In May, the company also laid off staff at its sports channels and cloud computing and video teams. This was largely due to strict Covid measures and regulatory pressure that Tencent and other Chinese companies have been dealing with for months.
  • Last year, Tencent lost over $400 billion in market value after peaking at almost $1 trillion in February 2021.