Everyone is feeling the pinch as things slow down, but companies focused on COVID products or services are finding it particularly difficult to maintain their footing in the post-pandemic market. Not only do they have to deal with decreased global funding, but they also face less demand for the products that fueled their growth during the manic period. That includes Curative, a COVID testing startup now facing a mass layoff.
While the COVID-19 pandemic was a difficult situation for people around the world, it proved fruitful for startups of all sorts. Companies saw explosive growth, and they took the opportunity to hire excess employees to deal with the increased demand as they expanded. But current economic conditions see things shifting rapidly, and many of those companies must now find ways to maintain profitability.
The California-based startup Curative is known for offering COVID-19 testing and vaccines through thousands of convenient sites that include drive-thrus, kiosks, and mobile sites. The company’s testing locations give the general public easy access and even come with no out-of-pocket cost to those with valid insurance.
However, those sites do not see as much traffic now that things have cooled. Due to that, Curative has made a big decision, choosing to pivot its focus to a new endeavor, launching a health plan in Austin, Texas.
The company’s new health plan is designed to be simple and transparent, offering customers predictable rates and no bills if they are in-network. It is an undertaking that will start with Curative launching its employer-based health plan in Travis and Williamson counties in Texas. The company then plans to expand to the rest of Texas and then, potentially, other states.
But the pivot to its ambitious health plan is something people will see in 2023 and beyond. Currently, Curative is planning a mass layoff of 109 employees as it cuts back in the realm of COVID testing and vaccines.
Curative’s mass layoff will take place in November. The timing is impacted by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires employers with 100 or more employees to provide advanced notice of big layoffs or plant closures 60 days in advance.
But the layoff is not the only thing Curative is trying to accomplish. The creation of a simplified health plan will see the company cut in some areas and hire new people in others. Though, for now, the employees brought in for its new venture will reside in the areas it services.
The startup has been planning this move for a while, acquiring Wingspan Health, a medical records app company, in August. The move was in anticipation of the future as a way for members to gather information on their providers for a smoother experience.
While the Curative layoff is shocking, it is not entirely unexpected and comes as part of a larger trend that sees many companies in the same vein letting people go. Other startups hurting include Cue Health and SummerBio, which both had mass layoffs earlier this year.
Another example is African genomics startup 54gene, which laid off 95 employees in August. During the peak of the pandemic, the company devoted its labs to COVID-19 testing and made the testing a large part of its operations. With that no longer being a valid choice, the company has been forced to cut back on its workforce and do some pivoting of its own.