O’Reilly Media has restructured Safari Books Online as part of a decision to integrate it within the parent business. But a spokesperson for O'Reilly refused to comment on any redundancies made as part of the move despite the departure of c.e.o. Andrew Savikas.
O’Reilly took full ownership of the digital subscription service specialising in technical business and content in August 2014 after buying Pearson’s 50% stake in the venture.
The company told The Bookseller that it was integrating the two businesses “as of January 2016”, which involved a restructure.
Safari Books Online’s c.e.o Andrew Savikas has left the company after five years, writing a blog to explain that he and O’Reilly boss Tim O’Reilly had agreed it was “the right time for me to step away”.
Other comments on social media have suggested O'Reilly has made widescale redundancies at Safari. One comment from a former staffer on LinkedIn called it a "mass action from Safari". When asked for more details, though, a spokesperson for O’Reilly declined to reveal the numbers of people who had been made redundant, or their names and positions.
The spokesperson said: “O'Reilly acquired full ownership of Safari in 2014, and as of January 2016, we are integrating the two businesses. They are quite complementary, and we see lots of opportunity ahead. Today’s restructuring announcements are about aligning O'Reilly's resources with its strategy, now that O'Reilly and Safari are one company.” The spokesperson added: “That company is in great shape, and we're excited about the future.”
However, the news will inevitably cast further doubt on the subscription model and its appropriateness for the sale of digital book content. Unlike many book subscription services, Safari operated a pool approach sharing revenues with publishers based on usage, which many believe to be the most economically viable model for providers. In 2014 Savikas told The Bookseller, "We’ve been doing this for 13 years, and have grown revenue by double digit [percentages] every single year. I’m not sure what else the jury needs [in order] to be persuaded that this kind of model can work, at least for certain kinds of content."
On his latest blog, Savikas wrote: "O’Reilly’s strategy for integrating Safari is sound, and while I’m admittedly biased, I believe they are incredibly well-positioned to complete their transformation from a “publisher” to an integrated media company that’s fundamentally about helping people learn and changing the world along the way."