Zirtual Ends Service, and Communication Is Criticized

After starting business just 18 months ago, Zirtual has abruptly announced its demise. Customers and the 400 employees of the virtual personal assistant company were surprised and angry. 


Business Insider points out the irony in the shoddy communication. Just three weeks ago, Zirtual CEO Maren Kate Donovan discussed in a Fortune magazine article how important it is to keep employees "in the loop": 

"My team is without a doubt my biggest asset, which is something I never take for granted. So it's vital to keep them in the loop during periods of change and consistently show support. Because what my employees don't know could ultimately hurt the entire business. The sooner your team knows about upcoming shifts in the company-the better.

"Additionally, give your employees ample time to adjust, as change in a company can often lead to people feeling unstable in their positions. And be transparent."

Zirtual has backpedaled, indicating that it's taking a "pause": 

"The decision to pause operations was the most difficult message I've ever had to deliver. I have spent every waking hour over the past four years working to build the most vibrant community of empowered workers only to have to let them know at once that we could no longer service them."

The upside is that Startups.co will be taking over operations, so some service and some employees will be reinstated. 

Discussion Starters: 

  • How, if at all, could this situation have been avoided? It's understandable that Zirtual scaled up too quickly and had to cease operations, but how could the communication have been better? 
  • Now that Zirtual will be bought out, what should Startups.co and the former CEO communicate?