Just a month after CrossFit announced it was laying off a significant portion of its workforce, the title sponsor of the CrossFit Games did the same last week. NOBULL, the title sponsor of the CrossFit Games since 2021, laid off approximately 75 employees, or roughly 35% of their total workforce, on Thursday, May 18, according to an employee impacted by the layoffs.
The news comes shortly after Todd Meleney, NOBULL’s former CMO, resigned from the company.
The former employee we spoke to said the news came as a surprise since previous monthly all-hands calls were positive and focused around the company’s new athlete partnerships and growth. However, this past Thursday’s all-hands call was cancelled in lieu of the layoffs.
The layoffs impacted employees across NOBULL’s three offices in Boston, Massachusetts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Stowe, Vermont, along with employees working remotely. It appears that all departments incurred reductions to its staffing and at least one C-suite executive was laid off.
For those who were laid off, we have been told NOBULL provided a two-week severance payment and continuation of health care benefits through the rest of the month.
According to FootwearNews.com, NOBULL founders Marcus Wilson and Michael Schaeffer said, “the challenging economic climate has forced us to make the incredibly difficult decision to restructure to safeguard the brand for the future.” That statement, however, doesn’t sit well with several now-former employees.
Another former employee told The Barbell Spin that the internal communication shared with those let go was that NOBULL had grown too fast and poor decisions had been made along the way.
Since it was founded in 2015, NOBULL quickly grew within the CrossFit space and became the title sponsor of the CrossFit Games in 2021. This year, NOBULL will provide over $3.3 million in prize money for the CrossFit Semifinal and NOBULL CrossFit Games. And then this past year, NOBULL became the Official Training Footwear and Apparel of the PGA TOUR and the Official Training Partner of the NFL Scouting Combine.
Not only that, as part of the deal with the NFL, 32 Equity, the NFL’s venture capital fund made an investment into NOBULL this past December. The size of the investment was not disclosed. However, according to frontofficesports.com, NOBULL was valued at $500 million for a fundraise back in April 2021.
With the exponential growth, it appears the NOBULL may have overextended itself and these layoffs are an effort to reduce expenses in an effort to maintain profitability. Whether the plan works out, time will tell. However, those we spoke with said it has been difficult for those laid off as well as those who are still employed by NOBULL.
The layoffs also occurred on Day 1 of the North America East Semifinals, the first live competition stage where CrossFit athletes earn their way to compete at the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games. NOBULL was slated to have a vendor booth in Orlando, Florida, for the competition. However, NOBULL was not in attendance. While not confirmed, those we spoke with did think that last week’s actions were the reason for the no show.