Envy Gaming Lays Off Eight Production Staffers in Refocus to Dallas
Seven of the employees let go were based in Los Angeles.
Envy Gaming laid off eight members of its production staff, including seven in Los Angeles, on Wednesday, a company spokesperson confirmed to The Jacob Wolf Report.
Among the layoffs were vice president Johnny Wickham and senior director of original and branded production Kate Meyers. Wickham joined the company in late 2020 from Legendary Entertainment, where he worked with Envy Gaming CEO Adam Rymer. Meyers is also a former Legendary employee. Wickham posted to LinkedIn on Wednesday morning, encouraging companies to hire his now-former colleagues.
“Multiple individuals were let go as the production resources at Envy are actively being realigned,” Envy Gaming spokesperson Greg Miller told The Jacob Wolf Report. “This included personnel in Los Angeles and Dallas as adjustments to the production department were made. The organization is committed to creating great content for its fans and the Envy, OpTic and creator brands, and is actively hiring in numerous roles—including Dallas-based production and content positions.”
Miller said Envy will create several new positions to take on some of the responsibilities of those let go, as well as other roles that better align with the business’s objectives. Not all positions will be backfilled, Miller said.
Envy completed a merger with OpTic Gaming in November, uniting the former rivals into one of esports’ most notable entities. The new organization has since undergone a restructuring, combining certain teams to eliminate redundancies and migrating parts of OpTic’s support staff from its previous owner, NRG Esports, over to Envy.
The group owns the Dallas Fuel—one of the 12 inaugural Overwatch League franchises—and the Dallas slot in the Call of Duty League, which it rebranded to OpTic Texas after the merger. It also has more than a dozen content creators, including Youna “CodeMiko” Kang and the Botez sisters, under Envy, and several under the OpTic brand.
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In January, the company also acquired the operating contract for Esports Stadium Arlington, a 100,000-square-foot facility adjacent to AT&T Stadium, Globe Life Field and Choctaw Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The previous operators were Esports Ventures LLC, an ownership group formerly led by Texas Rangers co-owner Neil Leibman with investment from Rangers majority owner Ray Davis and minority owner and Envy investor Kenneth Hersh. In December 2020, amid the pandemic, Esports Ventures LLC laid off all but two of the stadium’s staff, put Davis’s grandson Luke Leitzman in charge and installed his friend, 2020 University of North Texas grad Luke Bauer, as president.
Since Esports Stadium Arlington opened in late 2018, it has hosted several high-profile events, including Overwatch and Call of Duty League events, “Super Smash Bros.” tournament Low Tier City and the Esports Awards.
Envy Gaming raised $40 million in a Series C investment round in March. Of that total, American national TV holding corporation Gray Television invested $28.5 million. Previous investors for Envy include rapper Post Malone and Hersh Family Investments.
The layoffs come at a time when fund-raising for esports teams is expected to get tougher, with valuations coming under tighter scrutiny amid concerns of an impending recession. As esports teams move from early-stage ventures to late-stage companies, it’s expected that many will need to be stricter with their finances.
Sheryl Sandberg Leaves Meta
The longtime right hand to Mark Zuckerberg is out, as Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg announced her departure from the company on Wednesday. She worked there for 14 years.
Sandberg recently became the center of an internal review for her actions in 2016 and 2019 to squash British tabloid stories into her then-boyfriend, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, and his alleged treatment of past partners. We wrote about that here—and how Sandberg’s prestigious reputation eroded since she left Google in 2008 to join Facebook, thanks to her new company’s litany of scandals.
“When I took this job in 2008, I hoped I would be in this role for five years,” Sandberg wrote in a public Facebook post. “Fourteen years later, it is time for me to write the next chapter of my life. I am not entirely sure what the future will bring—I have learned no one ever is.
“I am so immensely proud of everything this team has achieved. The businesses we’ve helped and the business we've built. The culture we've nurtured together. And I'm especially proud that this is a company where many, many exceptional women and people from diverse backgrounds have risen through our ranks and become leaders—both in our company and in leadership roles elsewhere.”
Sandberg said she will focus on her philanthropic work, which includes advocating in tech workplaces, and she’ll continue to serve on the Meta board of directors. Tech journalists and pundits were fairly critical of Sandberg and happy about the news.
That’s it for today! We’ll see you tomorrow.