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Crime-reporting app Citizen lays off 33 employees

Citizen laid off 33 workers members on Wednesday, the corporate confirmed to TechCrunch.

“We’re grateful to all of our departing staff members for his or her contributions to Citizen and are dedicated to supporting them by means of this transition with a beneficiant severance package deal that features accelerated choice vesting and prolonged train window, six months of COBRA funds, profession companies help and different advantages,” a spokesperson advised.

Citizen didn’t share what departments on the firm have been impacted; one laid off worker advised TechCrunch that at the least 10 engineers have been let go.

Launched in 2016, the app was initially banned from the App Store over issues about vigilantism — it was referred to as Vigilante on the time. Now, Citizen makes use of public police blotters to inform customers about verified incidents of their space, however customers can add their very own stories of suspicious exercise and livestream from crime scenes as effectively.

Based on knowledge from SensorTower, an app analytics agency, Citizen has seen about $30.3 million in client spending and over 14 million downloads since its launch. The non-public firm most just lately raised a $73 million Collection C funding spherical in early 2021, which included a $23 million convertible be aware.

Citizen has been criticized for encouraging a tradition of surveillance that lends itself to racial profiling and harassment; one other neighborhood social app Nextdoor has exhibited related points. But probably the most egregious instance of those risks got here from the corporate’s CEO himself. In 2021, Andrew Body provided Citizen customers $30,000 to trace down a suspected arsonist whereas livestreaming on the Citizen app. He shared a photograph of the suspect on a dwell feed which racked up 800,000 views, however it turned out he had the incorrect man. Based on a report on the incident from Motherboard, Body noticed this as an elaborate advertising and marketing alternative for the app’s livestream characteristic.

“We deeply remorse our mistake and are working to enhance our inside processes to stop this from occurring once more,” the corporate wrote in a statement on the time.

Later that yr, Citizen launched a service referred to as Shield. For $20 per thirty days, customers get 24/7 entry to a “defend agent” who can join them with first responders or police. However critics have questioned whether or not Citizen’s alerts stoke panic and fear greater than they hold folks protected — and that worry can encourage folks to buy entry to their very own private safety agent.

Based on SensorTower knowledge, in-app purchases on Citizen elevated 17% yr over yr after the introduction of Shield. However Citizen noticed a mean of $1.4 million in month-to-month spending on its app in 2022, which doubtless isn’t sufficient to make the corporate worthwhile. Citizen didn’t share a cause for conducting layoffs, however letting go of 33 staff may afford the corporate a bit extra runway. Based on its website, Citizen is at present hiring for 5 roles.

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