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Brandfluence to End Charitable Fundraising Work on Twitch, Lays Off More than 15 Employees

After four years of working with some of Twitch’s most-watched influencers on charity campaigns, the Atlanta-based marketing agency is reportedly pivoting its business.

Brandfluence, the middleman for-profit marketing company formerly known as Softgiving, reportedly laid off around 15 contractors and employees on Monday as part of a pivot away from charitable fundraising and brand campaigns spearheaded by Twitch streamers.

The company informed employees on Monday that over the weekend prior, its board of directors made a decision to withdraw from the Twitch charitable fundraising and brand campaign part of its business, citing public relations issues and “severe financial losses,” according to emails sent to laid-off employees, copies of which were obtained by The Jacob Wolf Report. 

“Due to our business's substantial challenges, including ongoing PR [public relations] issues and severe financial losses, the Board has decided that Brandfluence will be exiting all charity and brand campaigns on Twitch, effective immediately,” Brandfluence vice president Beata Rouleau wrote to affected employees via email on Monday. “This strategic shift necessitates terminating your employment with Brandfluence, Inc., effective January 22nd, 2024.”

Brandfluence eliminated around 15 positions across brand partnerships and influencer relations and recruitment, according to social media posts on LinkedIn and X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. Those affected included leaders at the company such as influencer recruitment charity director Lana Yuen and head of influencer recruitment Andrew Thomas, who managed many of the employees and contractors let go as a part of the layoffs.

The layoffs at Brandfluence come amid a spate of cutbacks and closures across the video game industry. In 2023, community tracker VideoGameLayoffs.com estimated that more than 10,500 employees across the video game industry were laid off at various different game developers, publishers and other businesses. Just one month into 2024, more than 5,600 employees have been affected—with layoffs from the likes of Microsoft, Riot Games and Twitch.

Brandfluence did not respond to a list of questions about the reduction in force sent by The Jacob Wolf Report via email on Tuesday.

Before we continue on, a word from our friends at The Bay Area Times.

Now back to the article…

Over the past three months, a series of exposés raised questions about business practices in online fundraising spearheaded by gaming and gaming-adjacent content creators.

In November, a series of videos reported that the Open Hand Foundation, a non-profit organization co-founded by YouTuber Jirard “The Completionist” Khalil and his family to benefit dementia research, did not donate funds raised over a 10-year period. 

In December, it was reported that while known as Softgiving, Brandfluence collected roughly 42 percent of $6.2 million in donations in campaigns led by a who’s who of Twitch, including Ludwig Ahgren, Asmongold and Félix “xQc” Lengyel, according to tax records of its partner, the Givinga Foundation. New tax records released by the IRS in 2022 show that 46 percent of donations, or around $1.92 million of $3.56 million raised, was paid to Softgiving instead of the intended charities.

Brandfluence denied wrongdoing and in a statement to The Jacob Wolf Report, said it raised significantly more money for charities than the amounts indicated in those tax records, but did not provide supporting documentation when requested. In December, Brandfluence filed suit against the author of this story, Jacob Wolf, and four other defendants, alleging they conspired to defame the company. 

Since the release of reports on Brandfluence’s business practices, major YouTubers such as Charlie “MoistCr1TiKaL” White Jr., Ahgren, xQc and Jeremy “TheQuartering” Hambly have commented on Brandfluence in videos and livestreams, which have garnered millions of views on Twitch and YouTube. Several streamers who have worked with Brandfluence, including Ahgren, Poslla, Sunachu and ahliina_tv, have called for more transparency on social media.

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