Layoffs at Bold Penguin

Bold Penguin is the latest insurtech startup to layoff workers amid COVID-19. The layoffs took place approximately three weeks ago involving ~40 employees from several departments including the company’s call center, R&D, as well as select xagent staff who joined the company following a merger that took place in December of last year

Established in 2015, Bold Penguin has gone to raise over $50 million for its Bold Penguin Exchange that connects businesses, agents and carriers to “the right commercial insurance quote efficiently and effectively.” It has attracted insurance companies such as Progressive, Nationwide, and National General.

True to its name, Bold Penguin had bold ambitions. In its pre-pandemic existence, it employed close to 150 folks and looked to double its workforce to handle the volume of commercial insurance quotes flowing through its Exchange. And business flowed. According to SEMrush, in March, Progressive alone was responsible for at least ~28k unique pageviews to (see table below).

Page/Unique Visits Feb Mar 20.4k 28.2k
4.7k 1.4k 874 1.1k

Post-pandemic, small business insurance, like travel insurance, is a line of business that stands to be impacted the most as too many restauranteurs, contractors, fitness trainers, and others find themselves out of business.

Bold Penguin issued the following statement to provide context: 

“Due to the economic conditions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been seeing a drop in quote activity across all experiences in small commercial. As a result, we made the difficult decision to make an adjustment to our staffing, primarily around the call center teams, marketing, and some longer range non-core initiatives.

The reduction in staff was adjusted with new volume expectations in mind and customer product demands shifting to self-service digital solutions, a shift in product requests that was dramatically accelerated in March. We absolutely love every single member of our team and as painful as this was, we anticipate hiring back many of these positions once quoting activity begins to ramp back up and the macro environment for small businesses improves.

Bold Penguin remains committed to our enterprise partners. Running a financially responsible operation has been key to our success. With market economics and internal operational changes, we are well-positioned to lean into serving our existing clients, helping the industry weather the storm and emerge even stronger. During this period we have made the commitment to our existing customers and prospective customers, both on the distribution side and the carrier side, to help them find creative ways to service their small business clients.

Overall, we are seeing a slowdown in quote-starts across the entire industry, and like many, believe this is a moment in time that will come back around. As many small to midsize businesses reopen after the shelter-in-place is lifted, we believe the inquiries and usage will gradually go up and digital transformation will be key for success.

We are grateful to be able to continue to focus on our mission during this challenging time: connecting small businesses, agencies, and carriers to reduce the time it takes to quote and bind.”