In a memo sent to Audible staff last week, Audible CEO Bob Carrigan said that, in spite of a strong 2023, Audible is cutting its workforce. The cuts are believed to be about 5% of staff, or some 100 people.
Declaring that Audible’s business “is in good shape,” Carrigan said the cuts were necessary “to position us for continued success in the coming year and into the future, given the increasingly challenging landscape we face.” He added that "getting leaner and more efficient is the way we will need to operate now—and in the foreseeable future—in order to continue delivering best-in-class audio storytelling to our customers around the world."
The cuts come despite the continued growth of digital audiobook sales but with the industry, and Audible, facing an uncertain environment in 2024. Spotify’s long-awaited entry into in the digital audiobook space began last year, and is expected to provide the first real challenge to Audible in the market this year. And new breakthroughs in AI are also bringing challenges, as well as opportunities, to platforms that sell audiobooks from traditional publishers.
In early November, Amazon’s self-publishing giant, Kindle Direct Publishing, announced that it had begun a beta test on technology allowing KDP authors to produce audiobook versions of their e-books using virtual voice narration, and that the audiobooks would be sold through Audible. The ability to create an audiobook using synthetic speech technology is likely to result in a boom in the number of audiobooks produced by KDP authors, since only 4% of titles self-published through KDP have an audiobook available. A study done by one independent researcher founded that dozens of synthetic voice narrated audiobooks quickly turned up on the Audible site.
The Audible layoffs come as other parts of Amazon’s business are also reducing staff. Fast Company reported that Amazon’s Prime Video and MGM Studios unit were also cutting payroll, while the Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch also eliminated jobs.