Denver-based education tech firm Guild lays off 172 employees

After years of rapid growth, Guild, a Denver-based technology company focused on employee education, let go of 12% of its workforce on Wednesday.

“I’m writing with a heavy heart today to share that we’ve made the difficult decision to eliminate 172 roles at Guild, as a part of a broader organization of the company around our 3-year strategy and 10-year goals,” CEO and co-founder Rachel Romer wrote employees on Wednesday.

The company counts 1,400 workers overall, including 730 in Colorado, and has a high-profile list of the country’s top corporations as clients, including Walmart, which turned to it in 2018 to create a program that provided the retail giant’s 1.4 million employees a way to earn a college degree while still employed.

Guild’s platform allows companies to provide their employees with learning programs, career coaches and information on career pathways.

Since its founding in 2015, Guild has proven popular with investors, including raising $175 million in a round last year that included Oprah Winfrey. In 2019, the company met the definition of a unicorn, a fast-growing tech company worth $1 billion or more in market value.

The company represented a success story among Colorado tech startups and was among only a handful of unicorns out there led by a woman, who happened to be the granddaughter of former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer and daughter of Chris Romer.

Laid-off employees will receive three months of pay plus an additional week for each year at Guild, as well as six months of premiums paid for medical, dental and vision coverage. It is also giving departing employees up to two years to exercise their stock options versus the typical three months.

Guild will continue tuition support for former employees’ children enrolled in its Beehive child care program until they age out.  And the company will provide job transition support internally and through Mercer, an outside firm, as well as through its alumni network.

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