When I cofounded Convene ten years ago, I had a vision to create inspiring places that people could meet, work, connect, collaborate, and see their businesses succeed. More importantly, though, I wanted to create a values-based company where people could thrive.
Of all the achievements and successes that we’ve had since we first opened our doors, I’m most proud of the culture we have cultivated, and the people that have built this organization from the ground up. Our people are the magic that makes the Convene experience so incredible.
Like so many of our peers, the coronavirus pandemic has shaken our business to the core. We are in uncharted waters, and as a business owner, I couldn’t have predicted the speed, intensity, and devastation that this crisis would have on our company—nor the impact it would have on the lives of so many team members, clients, and partners.
With many of our locations closed, we’re one of many companies who are taking every step necessary to survive. In addition to aggressive cost mitigation efforts, we have been working closely with our shareholders, landlord partners, lenders and clients to ensure the security of Convene’s future and are grateful for their support. It will be hard, but we will get through this.
The last few weeks have been the hardest we’ve ever faced as a company—and by far the toughest I’ve ever faced in my career. Having to make the difficult decision to lay off 17% of our workforce and furlough hundreds pushed me to the limits of my capacity as a CEO and cofounder.
It’s hard to express in words what this means to us, but I’m going to try. It means we’ve had tearful goodbyes. It means we’re doing everything we can to protect our employees, especially now, by providing them with financial support and 100% healthcare coverage. It’s also why we created a Convene Relief Fund to support our employees through opt-in donations from our leadership team and the contribution of my entire salary.
This is an extremely trying time for us all. It’s difficult for our employees we had to let go, it’s tough for our people who will be furloughed, and it’s hard for the team who will remain with the company—and will be fighting hard to bring their Convene family back. What gives me solace is that we’re staying true to our core values and caring for our team, even during a time that we’re taking critical measures to sustain our business for the long-term.
It is said that a company’s true character is revealed in the choices it makes under pressure—the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation. There is no pressure greater than the one we’re facing now, and I can’t tell you how inspired and humbled I’ve been by the strength, courage, and compassion of this team’s character.
While the uncertainty of these times may incite fear in some, I truly hope that our human instincts for empathy and love prevail, both within Team Convene, and across the globe. It is in our most challenging times that we need innovation and creativity more than ever. As an organization, we will continue to partner closely with our clients and landlord partners and will work relentlessly to rebuild what has been lost. It will be hard, but we will get through this together.
To those team members who are no longer working with us, I am forever indebted to you for the hard work and passion you brought to this company. You touched our hearts and left your imprint on our culture. Thank you.
To the rest of my Team Convene family, this is going to be hard, we have our work cut out for us, but we will get through this and be stronger for it.
To our clients, landlord partners, shareholders and local communities, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Our future success is not possible without your continued support.
Stay safe and healthy, everyone.
Ryan Simonetti, CEO and co-founder of Convene