Leaked screenshots and audio reveal the implosion inside Stripe-backed Fast — including the CEO's plans to reduce burn rate, and employee's calls for transparency in leadership

Leaked screenshots and audio reveal the implosion inside Stripe-backed Fast — including the CEO's plans to reduce burn rate, and employee's calls for transparency in leadership
Fast CEO Domm Holland.Fast
  • Stripe-backed one-click checkout startup Fast plans to lay off half of its staff.
  • Employees voiced their concern in an all-hands meeting, and on the company's Slack channels.

On Wednesday, the Information reported that Domm Holland, the CEO of one-click checkout startup Fast, told potential new investors that it plans to lay off more than half of its staff. Shortly after the story broke, employees shared their concerns in a Slack channel called #teamfun, according to screenshots leaked to Insider.

"It really doesn't feel good when outsiders know more about our company than we do," an employee of the three-year-old start-up wrote.

"All we're asking for is to know if we will all be out of work tomorrow/this week, and to hear it from our leaders," another employee wrote.

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"I'm not sure even if the above news is true. It has been ~5 hours since the news about layoffs was published and we don't know anything yet," an additional employee wrote.

The #teamfun channel currently has 440 members, and there are 450 total members in the company's Slack. The Information reported that the company planned to cut 200 members of its staff, citing that payroll made up more than 60% of its operating expenses in 2021.


That goes against what Fast's head of engineering, Vicky Xiong, told Insider in February. At the time, Xiong said the company planned to double its employee headcount of 390 by year's end.

"Engineers were looking to find a buyer, another company to buy Fast's core product and engineering team," a current employee told Insider. The Information confirmed Thursday evening that the company intends to seek a buyer and hired Morgan Stanley to explore an auction for its business.

Holland finally addressed the concerns in an internal Slack channel called #company-announcements on Thursday at 12:15 p.m., a full day after the Information article was published. His message reads:

"Hey team, it's obviously an incredibly challenging time for each of you. I know you all want an update as much as I want to give it, but right now there isn't an update we can share with you all without risking the process. We have built such an incredible team, such a great product, and customers who truly love it. [For what it's worth] we are literally working around the clock for all of you, but fully appreciate that without our ability to explain the full process it goes unseen and unknown. even though I can't share more information right now, I am available as usual if you want to talk/vent/whatever. This is a tough week, but we are getting through it, and hopefully, next week is infinitely better."


But Holland's comment did little to assuage employees' fears, some of whom are speculating that the entire workforce will be let go, not just half.

"It's a mess. Like Slack is dead all day," a current employee told Insider. "No one's working, like the only people that are working are the essential engineers that are keeping the system running."


Fast did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

'Increasing our burn at all right now is almost a non-option'

Leaked screenshots and audio reveal the implosion inside Stripe-backed Fast — including the CEO's plans to reduce burn rate, and employee's calls for transparency in leadership
Fast COO Allison Barr Allen fielded questions from employees at a March 25 all-hands and said that she didn't "really want to go and release cash" or do anything to increase the company's burn.Allison Barr Allen

The writing may have been on the wall.

In a March 25 company all-hands hosted by Holland and Fast's Chief Operating Officer Allison Barr Allen, employees questioned why employee performance reviews — which determine raises and promotions — had been delayed, according to leaked audio reviewed by Insider. During the call, an employee asked how much longer the firm would delay them, and Barr Allen said the leadership team was still working on the approval processes and would update employees when she had more information.

Later in the call, an employee brings up a delayed team offsite and asks if it will be postponed until "we reduce our burn rate."

Holland responds that the company has no plans to eliminate offsites permanently, but said "us increasing our burn at all right now" is not only terrible but is "almost a non-option."


"It's just a terrible look for investors if we increased our burn even more," Holland continued. "Which is one of our biggest driving factors. So, like, you know, in the next few weeks, will we be approving more offsite? No, is the short answer. But long term, absolutely."

Next, another employee asks about the delayed performance reviews.

"I think I speak on behalf of a large majority of Fast that transparency hasn't really been a priority and it's caused a lot of panic and instability and questions surrounding job security," the employee said. "It just doesn't seem very fair to anyone that information is being so withheld. So, you know, I just wanted to ask both of you, like, you know, should we be worried, should we be looking for new work?"

Holland responds that "we just can't be as transparent on a number of items" due to the company's current fundraising plans. However, when it comes to the pay raises that come with FPRs, Holland said "right now I don't really want to go and release cash," citing that it would also increase the company's burn.

"We have our burns already too high. We're trying to be transparent. No one is wanting to withhold information," Holland said. "We all want to share information and you guys wanna hear more information and we're doing the best we can."