Digital media company Forest Giant laid off 13 employees this week, nearly half its staff, CEO Dave Durand confirmed to Insider in an email.
He cited the company’s shift in focus and a loss of a major contract as a reason for the layoffs. All three partners, Durand, Jesse Lucas and Jon Shaw, remain, he said.
“The tipping point was last year,” Durand said in the email. “A major contract we had secured was yanked right before Christmas. In addition, the contracts we were getting didn’t align with our new focus — a platform called Otis.” He described Otis as a distributed computing platform, which brings the power of the Internet of Things without the dependency of the cloud.
“The last year and a half, we have had a team 100 percent dedicated to the construction of this platform,” he continued. “In the last quarter, we had made the decision to pivot from services to product, knowing the challenges that may arise with such a decision.”
One serial entrepreneur was completely caught off guard by the news; another said that he thought Forest Giant was planning to grow in 2017. A member of the advertising community said Forest Giant was “peerless in what they do.”
After a somewhat rocky start seven years ago, the company hit its stride, even growing out of its HQ. Forest Giant moved from The Pointe to 2858 Frankfort Ave in late 2015. It gutted the 7,000 square foot 1920s Masonic Lodge building and redesigned it to fit with Forest G’s hip, artsy aesthetic. Durand said the company planned to keep the space and “may entertain co-working.”
Durand said the sudden need to downsize was painful. Durand said. “Forest Giant is like a family. Every single person who has worked here is amazingly skilled and all have become great friends. We are doing our best to help those who left in the next chapter of their careers. As we continue to grow Otis — we hope we can invite them back someday.”
Durand is a founder of City Collaborative, the organization that does site-specific installations like Resurfaced and other city-centered projects, and the employees at Forest Giant were very involved. That may not change.
“We may have downsized, but we are still Forest Giant,” Durand said. “We believe strongly in our city and will remain actively involved.”