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Celebrity video start-up Cameo lays off 25% of its staff as people flock back to in-person events


Cameo, the Chicago startup that sells customized video shout-outs from celebrities that saw its popularity soar during the pandemic, has laid off 25 percent of its workforce as the famous go back to starring in-person events.

CEO Steven Galanis said he laid off 87 staffers, including those in starting and senior-level positions, during a company-wide meeting on Wednesday, citing the need to scale back after profits topped at $100 million in 2020, Variety reported. 

‘To support both fan and talent demand during the pandemic lockdowns, Cameo’s headcount exploded from just over 100 to nearly 400,’ Galanis said in a statement.

‘We hired a lot of people quickly, and market conditions have rapidly changed since then. Accordingly, we have right-sized the business to best reflect the new realities.’

Galanis took to Twitter later that day to call on other companies to hire the laid-off employees. 

‘Today has been a brutal day at the office. I made the painful decision to let go of 87 beloved members of the Cameo Fameo,’ Galanis wrote. ‘If you’re looking to hire hungry, humble, smart, kind, curious, learning machines who love to win – and you see Cameo on their resume – look no further.  

CEO Steven Galanis (pictured) said he laid off 87 staffers, including those in starting and senior-level positions, during a company-wide meeting on Wednesday

He took to Twitter following the meeting to beg others to hire the laid-off employees

He took to Twitter following the meeting to beg others to hire the laid-off employees

Cameo allows fans to purchase customized video messages from their favorites celebrities. During the pandemic, its popularity soared, earning the company $100 million in 2020 alone

Cameo allows fans to purchase customized video messages from their favorites celebrities. During the pandemic, its popularity soared, earning the company $100 million in 2020 alone

Launched in 2017, Cameo made a name for itself by allowing fans to purchase customized video messages from their favorites celebrities, be they actors, authors, athletes, influencers or general pop-culture icons. 

The company quickly rose in popularity during the pandemic when quarantines canceled events and kept people indoors, with profits rising to $100 million, four-times as much as the company earned in 2019.

The Office star Brian Baumgartner, who’s bumbling portrayal as Kevin Malone earned him the undying affection of fans – earned more than $1 million in 2020 through Cameo. 

At $2,500, Caitlyn Jenner charges the most for a shout-out, with Kevin O’Leary from Shark Tank not far behind at $1,200. 

But as the pandemic has waned, so too has the fervor for Cameo’s services, Galanis said as he insisted it was necessary to scale the company back and refocus its goals. 

‘The decision to reduce our headcount was a painful but necessary course correction to ensure that we regain focus as well as achieve the agility to navigate new challenges, the ability to optimize our financial resources, and time and space to nurture newer business segments like Cameo for Business, Represent and web3 that we believe will be as big as the core business that put us on the map,’ Galanis said. 

‘We are bullish on the intermediate and long-term future of Cameo, and the actions we have taken to balance our costs with our cash reserves will best position the company to take full advantage of those growth opportunities.’ 

Caitlyn Jenner is the costliest celebrity on Cameo, charging $2,500 per message

Caitlyn Jenner is the costliest celebrity on Cameo, charging $2,500 per message

The Chicago-based company had bolstered in popularity and expanded to Los Angeles, where it purchased a villa and held a Super Bowl party in February (pictured)

The Chicago-based company had bolstered in popularity and expanded to Los Angeles, where it purchased a villa and held a Super Bowl party in February (pictured)

Last year, Cameo was valued at just over $1 billion after raising $100 million from investors, including Amazon, Google and the United Talent Agency. 

By October, it purchased Represent, an LA-based marketing and merchandising platform that operates direct-to-fan ecommerce sites for celebrities. 

The company even purchased a villa in Los Angeles, which it used to hold a Super Bowl party in February. 

On Tuesday, Cameo and Snapchat parent company Snap announced a new partnership, Snap x Cameo Advertiser program, which will allow Snapchat advertisers to pair up with Cameo celebrities to create video ads for the social media platform. 

The change in Cameo comes as COVID-19 cases continue to drop after two years of the pandemic. 

The U.S. reported 114,308 new COVID-19 cases in the past day, according to Johns Hopkins University, along with 1,960 new deaths.

More than two-thirds of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, and about 82.5 percent have gotten at least one jab.  

Celebrity video start-up Cameo lays off 25% of its staff as people flock back to in-person events

Celebrity video start-up Cameo lays off 25% of its staff as people flock back to in-person events

Celebrity video start-up Cameo lays off 25% of its staff as people flock back to in-person events

The top celebrities on Cameo

Launched in 2017, Cameo allows fans to purchase customized video messages from their favorites celebrities, be they actors, authors, athletes, influencers or general pop-culture icons. 

Caitlyn Jenner currently charges the most on the Cameo, with a personalized message going for $2,500. Jenner also charges businesses $50,000 to be included in video content for the company, customers or employees. 

Jenner forwards the proceeds she earns on Cameo to her charity, the Caitlyn Jenner Foundation, which combats discrimination against transgender youth. 

At $2,500, Caitlyn Jenner (above) charges the most for a personal shout-out

At $2,500, Caitlyn Jenner (above) charges the most for a personal shout-out

Kevin O'Leary, also known as Mr. Wonderful on Shark Tank, is the second-most expensive celebrity on the site, charging $1,500 for a personal message

Kevin O’Leary, also known as Mr. Wonderful on Shark Tank, is the second-most expensive celebrity on the site, charging $1,500 for a personal message

Kevin O’Leary, also known as Mr. Wonderful on Shark Tank, is the second-most expensive celebrity on the site.

O’Leary charges $1,500 for a personal message and $6,500 for businesses. He describes himself on the site as a ‘[Four] Time Emmy Award winning Shark Tank’s Mr. Wonderful, 3 time bestselling author, CNBC contributor, wine maker, guitar dude and photographer. 

Among the other top earners includes Saturday Night Live and MadTV alumnus Jeff Richards, who charges $999 for personal cameos. 

The comedian offers his clients the chance to pick a celebrity for him to impersonate as he reads a 50-word message of their choosing.

Saturday Night Live and MadTV alumnus Jeff Richards charges $999

Saturday Night Live and MadTV alumnus Jeff Richards charges $999

Academy award-winning actor Richard Dreyfus, of Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, charges $699 for personal messages but only $599 for businesses. 

Martin Belncowe, the co-founder of Cameo, describes Dreyfus as an American icon and joins Dreyfus in his Cameo reel to highlight the actor’s prominence and his devoted fan-base. 

Academy award-winning actor Richard Dreyfus, of Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, charges $699 for personal messages but only $599 for businesses

Academy award-winning actor Richard Dreyfus, of Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, charges $699 for personal messages but only $599 for businesses

Rapper Dennis Coles, better known as Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan, was among the many musicians who jumped to cameo and made appearances throughout the pandemic. 

Coles only books through Cameo and charges $600 for personalized messages. He also offers to sing two lines in a clients song.  

Rapper Dennis Coles, better known as Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan offers to sing two lines in a clients song through Cameo

Rapper Dennis Coles, better known as Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan offers to sing two lines in a clients song through Cameo

Tom Felton, who played Harry Potter’s rival Draco Malfoy in the beloved movie franchise, is also on Cameo charging $599 for personal messages and $4,444 for businesses. 

The actor plays off his role as the villainous Malfoy, much to the delight of the dedicated Harry Potter fans.  

Tom Felton, who played Harry Potter's rival Draco Malfoy in the beloved movie franchise, is on Cameo charging $599 per message

Tom Felton, who played Harry Potter’s rival Draco Malfoy in the beloved movie franchise, is on Cameo charging $599 per message



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