These cuts are so far Zweben’s most prominent action executing those operational changes. They also represent a sharp slide for a company whose headcount swelled to 1,123 full-time employees by the end of last year, increasing 81% from 2013 to 2014, according to SEC filings. However, Rocket Fuel cautioned it expected “a significantly slower rate of headcount growth in 2015.”
Since Rocket Fuel's initial success, both as a private company and as a fledgling public company, competition in the space has grown, its insertion order business has fallen out of favor and Rocket Fuel has had to offer new pricing and deployment models – hence the acquisition of self-serve DSP/DMP hybrid [x+1], which it is now challenged to integrate.
While Rocket Fuel historically positioned itself as among the best performers in the industry (advertisers put spend in and get spectacular return), John has frequently bemoaned the chummy nature of the ad tech community, wherein agencies work with preferred vendors, leaving Rocket Fuel out in the cold.
Rocket Fuel has discussed constructing a team focused on building those very agency relations it feels it will need to get back to profitability, though it’s unclear if those plans are still on the table and whether the recent round of layoffs indicate the first step in that process.