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Scoop: Nielsen set for layoffs following hiring spree, buyout

Kerry Flynn
Jan 11, 2023
Illustration of the Nielsen logo with all shapes pointing down.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Nielsen told employees in an internal memo that it would reduce its workforce back to roughly what it was a year ago, according to a copy obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: Nielsen, which cited economic conditions for the move, is launching the workforce reduction just months after it was acquired by private equity firms.

Details: The memo sent by CEO David Kenny to Nielsen employees said the workforce reduction follows a hiring spree meant "to keep pace with the higher-than-normal attrition rates in the first half of the year and for a number of product and international expansion opportunities."

  • "Since August, attrition has dropped significantly as the macro-economic environment around us deteriorated," the memo continued. "As we finalized our 2023 operating plan, we also needed to align our investments with the highest potential services and countries."
  • Connie Kim, SVP and global head of communications at Nielsen, declined to comment to Axios on the number of employees and departments affected.
  • "In this effort, we are prioritizing investments in our panel, product quality and technical innovation — the cornerstones of our brand," Kim said. "Nielsen is offering severance pay, outplacement services, health insurance and full 2022 bonuses to those eligible to make this transition as smooth as possible."
  • Nielsen employed 15,000 people, including 1,000 part-time employees, as of December 31, 2021, according to a SEC filing. But it's unclear how many employees were hired last year.

Catch up quick: Nielsen agreed to a $16 billion private equity takeover last year by Evergreen Coast Capital, the private equity arm of hedge fund Elliott Management, and Brookfield Business Partners.

  • Nielsen executives, including CFO Linda Zukauckas, have recently announced their departures.

The big picture: Nielsen has been under intense pressure to modernize its media-measurement capabilities in the streaming era.

  • The firm faced more scrutiny after the Media Rating Council, which serves as the industry's de facto watchdog, suspended Nielsen's accreditation status.
  • That pressure has made way for rival companies such as iSpot and VideoAmp to gain more attention.
  • Earlier this week, five major TV networks, in partnership with OpenAP and the Video Advertising Bureau, announced a joint industry committee to standardize new advertising currencies.

Editor's note: The headline and other parts of the story have been edited and updated for clarity.

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