Days after warning his employees at Barstool Sports to “do more”, owner Dave Portnoy has agreed to lay off 25% of the company’s workforce. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Dave Portnoy, owner of Barstool Sports, has untactfully told his staff to “do more” just days before his company is cutting 25% of its workforce.
News of Barstool’s massive job cuts broke Tuesday, just weeks after Portnoy bought Barstool back from Penn Entertainment for $1. One of the employees who was fired, Barstool Chicago employee Hannah Tran, announced her dismissal on Twitter a few days later:
Portnoy used his sportsbook’s radio show earlier this week to explain that he hates firing people, although listeners wouldn’t tell from the biting in his voice. Though he warned listeners that “layoffs and cutbacks” are coming, he said laying off employees is “the worst thing the damn thing can do,” while also poking fun at one employee who got upset about it that a colleague was fired.
Penn vs. Portnoy: A Culture Clash
According to Thursday New York PostBarstool currently employs around 430 people. The post stated that since Penn acquired Barstool in 2020 for a total of $551 million, 300 employees had joined the sportsbook before the two brands parted ways in early August.
The shock-jock culture didn’t translate into the mass appeal that Penn wanted
Much like FOX Bet, the recently defunct scion of Fox and Flutter’s toxic partnership, the Penn-Portnoy combination was one for excitement from the start. Barstool’s shock-jock culture didn’t translate into the mass appeal Penn desired, as allegations of “violent sex” surfaced against Portnoy in November 2021 and Penn shares plummeted.
While the dust settles, Penn expects to bid farewell to up to $850 million by returning Barstool to Portnoy. However, that loss may be mitigated by the prospect of a new rebranding deal for Penn’s sportsbook with ESPN.
Portnoy, meanwhile, tried to rally his employees ahead of the downsizing by encouraging them to “go back on the pirate ship” and promising never to sell Barstool again. If his motivational style reflects his stance in his videos about the layoffs at all, it will take quite an effort to boost morale.