Meow Wolf Announces Layoffs, Expense Cuts | Westword

Meow Wolf Announces Layoffs, Expense Cuts

Expenses will be cut by 10 percent and 165 people will be laid off across the company.
Meow Wolf opened Convergence Station in Denver in 2021.
Meow Wolf opened Convergence Station in Denver in 2021. Evan Semón
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For a while, it seemed as though Meow Wolf would never stop growing.

The immersive-entertainment corporation began in 2008 as a renegade arts collective in Santa Fe; with the support of author George RR Martin, its members were able to remodel a former bowling alley into the massive House of Eternal Return in 2016. As Meow Wolf grew, it opened more locations, including Omega Mart in Las Vegas, which was unveiled in February 2021, and Denver's Convergence Station, which opened in September 2021. Last July, Meow Wolf added The Real Unreal in Grapevine, Texas.

Meow Wolf employs more than 1,000 people at its various facilities, and it plans to open a new location in Houston later this year.

But on April 15, Meow Wolf CEO Jose Tolosa announced via email that the company would be laying off 111 employees across the exhibition and corporate teams — Convergence Station will lose 50 — as well as cutting expenses by 10 percent. In addition, the entire executive team's compensation will be reduced by 10 percent, and the New York City corporate office will close while plans to open another office in Los Angeles are scrapped. Meow Wolf is also proposing to "eliminate" 54 bargaining-unit positions in the Las Vegas location, noting in a statement, "We are actively negotiating with the union as there is no collective bargaining agreement in place" at Omega Mart.

“Meow Wolf notified our colleagues that we will soon be cutting expenses by 10 percent and reducing our workforce by 165 people company-wide in order to right-size the business to ensure future success," says Tolosa, who became CEO in January 2022 after restructuring in Santa Fe, which included prior co-CEOs Carl Christensen and Ali Rubinstein returning to their original roles as chief financial officer and chief creative officer, respectively.

"When we opened our first exhibitions, we were inventing an operating model from scratch," Tolosa continues. "Over the past three years, we’ve developed a better understanding of our guests and what we need to staff and support our exhibitions in order to make the most of the growth opportunities ahead, including our Houston location that opens later this year. Saying goodbye to friends and colleagues who have been a big part of Meow Wolf’s success to date will not be easy. We are grateful for their contributions, both creatively and to our community. And we are committed to supporting everyone through this transition as we move forward."

Back in late 2021, Santa Fe Meow Wolf employees unionized, and Convergence Station employees followed suit in July 2022 after months of organizing; Omega Mart workers also made it clear they would join the Meow Wolf Workers Collective-Communications Workers of America last September.

"We have been in close communication with the MWWC, our employee union, around these changes," the company states. "We know our actions affect the community, and we're making every effort to lessen negative impacts and be a good neighbor. Expansion is still an important part of our business strategy, and these changes will enable us to continue to grow in a way that is smart and sustainable."
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