Layoffs at The Zebra

Insurance comparison site The Zebra announced layoffs today, according to information obtained by Coverager, affecting about 40 employees across various divisions.

We reached out to the company and received the following response from CEO Keith Melnick: “We recently undertook a restructuring initiative that ultimately impacted some of our employees and temporarily reduced our headcount. This decision was a difficult one and was not made lightly. However, it is necessary as we move forward with our vision for the long term growth strategy of the business. We are so grateful for the work of everyone involved and invested in the success of our company: past, present and future.”

A Slack message was sent earlier this morning to employees announcing an all-hands meeting and during the meeting, Melnick said that restructuring needs to be done. Despite a recent hiring freeze, these layoffs caught employees by surprise following conversations we’ve had with several of them.

In late 2020, we wrote a piece about The Zebra becoming profitable but this rare startup achievement wasn’t by design. “We kind of became profitable accidentally,” Melnick told me in a Zoom call. The reality is that The Zebra still attracts mostly non-standard auto insurance shoppers and advertising revenue remains the main dish for now.

The Zebra was also affected by the recent changes enacted by its carrier partners, which included reduced appetite and less flexible payment plans.

On a positive note, the company is about to achieve a major milestone as it prepares to go live with its first fully-integrated carrier partner, allowing shoppers to buy coverage without leaving its site.

Update: According to a spokesperson of The Zebra, the company did not implement a hiring freeze and there is no hiring freeze. Based on information from several former employees we were in contact with, there was a hiring freeze prior to these layoffs. In addition, LinkedIn data shows that The Zebra had 349 employees in November of last year while in April of this year employee headcount was reduced to 330.