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Chicago Gift Card Start-Up Raise Is Laying Off 15% Of Staff

By Gwendolyn Purdom in News on Aug 4, 2016 5:29PM

Updated 1:15

Image via Raise's homepage

Gift card marketplace Raise, one of Chicago and the country's most buzzed-about start-ups, announced they'd be laying off 15 percent of their workforce Wednesday.The cuts were related to the company's plans to " align skill-sets with strategic vision" and "advances in automation," Raise wrote in an emailed statement obtained by the Tribune. About 45 people out of the company's 300 staffers will be affected.

"While decisions like this are never easy, these actions will help sharpen our focus on the broader payments industry and continue to improve the marketplace," Raise said to Chicagoist in a statement. "Raise has made every effort to reduce the impact on the affected employees by providing severance, assistance with job placement and other benefits."

Raise, named the No. 22 hottest start-up of 2015 by Forbes and valued at $608 million last year, launched in Chicago in 2013. In the time since, the company, an online marketplace for unused gift cards, has made headlines for drawing big name investors, explosive growth and the acquisition of other mobile payment startups like Tastebud and Slide. As Chicago has fortified its place as a potential future tech hub in recent years, Raise has consistently ranked among its most promising stars.

Of course, the city's tech sector knows explosive growth and tech promise doesn't always mean a company is set for long-term success. Take Groupon's early triumphs and ongoing downfall, for instance. Raise, for its part, said in its statement the move will "help [the company] thrive and strategically invest in the future of innovation and new mobile technologies." Guess we'll have to wait and see.