Dave Portnoy Tells Barstool Staff to “Step the F–k Up” Ahead of 25% Job Cuts

  • Portnoy warned staff of “layoffs and cuts” earlier this week
  • He mocked upset employees in public videos explaining the layoffs
  • The New York Post stated Barstool’s staff total was 430 before cuts
  • Penn expects losses of up to $850m in handing Barstool back to Portnoy
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Days after warning his Barstool Sports employees to “step the f–k up” owner Dave Portnoy has agreed to axe 25% of the company’s staff. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Barstool Sports owner Dave Portnoy has less-than-tactfully told his employees to “step the f–k up” just days ahead of his firm axing 25% of its staff.

News of the mass Barstool job cuts emerged Tuesday, just weeks after Portnoy bought Barstool back from Penn Entertainment for $1. One of the staff let go, Barstool Chicago employee Hannah Tran, took to Twitter a couple days later to share her dismissal:

Portnoy used his sportsbook’s radio show earlier this week to state he hates firing people, though listeners would not know that from the vitriol in his voice. Despite warning listeners “layoffs and cuts” were coming, he said axing staff was “the worst thing to f–king do,” while at the same time mocking an employee for being upset that a colleague was laid off.

Penn v Portnoy: A culture clash

According to Thursday’s New York Post, Barstool currently has around 430 members of staff. The Post stated 300 employees joined the sportsbook from the time Penn acquired Barstool for a total of $551m in 2020, up until the two brands parted ways early August.

shock-jock culture didn’t translate into the mass appeal Penn wanted

Similar to FOX Bet, the recently departed offspring of the toxic partnership between Fox and Flutter, the Penn-Portnoy combination has been jarring from word go. Barstool’s shock-jock culture didn’t translate into the mass appeal Penn wanted, with “violent sex” allegations against Portnoy in November 2021 sending Penn shares plummeting.

What next?

As the dust settles, Penn expects to kiss goodbye to up to $850m in handing Barstool back to Portnoy. This loss is, however, perhaps softened by the prospects of a new rebranding deal for Penn’s sports betting business with ESPN.

Portnoy, meanwhile, attempted to rally his staff ahead of the job cuts, by encouraging them “back to the pirate ship,” and promising never to sell Barstool again. If his motivational style at all mirrors his attitude in his videos about the layoffs, through, it will take quite the effort to boost morale.

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