CEO of Briza steps down as insurtech startup cuts close to half of its staff

Briza’s leadership includes FreshBooks founder Mike McDerment and former director of engineering Rishi Sharma. The CEO of Toronto-based insurtech Briza stepped down last week ahead of layoffs that affected almost half of the company, BetaKit has learned. Last week, Briza’s CEO and co-founder, Ben Munro, stepped down from his role prior to the startup laying off around 26 of its employees Friday, according to communications by now-former Briza employees viewed by BetaKit. LinkedIn posts have also popped up with former employees noting that they were laid off. One source told BetaKit that the cuts included “senior director-level leadership.” Prior to the cuts, Briza’s employee base sat around 65 people. Briza is not alone in its end-of-year staff reduction amid a tightening economic and fundraising environment. CTO Rishi Sharma has taken over as Briza’s CEO and was the one to execute the layoffs, according to the communications viewed by BetaKit. Briza was co-founded in 2016 by Munro and Mike McDerment, co-founder and executive chair at FreshBooks. McDerment stepped down from his role as FreshBooks CEO in early 2021, citing plans to focus a portion of his efforts on supporting Briza moving forward. McDerment serves as board chair for Briza, with Munro also a member of the board. Sharma also came from FreshBooks, where he was the director of engineering prior to joining Briza as CTO. BetaKit has reached out to Sharma, as well as Munro and McDerment for comment. Munro and McDerment did not respond, while Sharma acknowledged the requests but did not provide comment at the time of publication. Briza offers what it calls an insurance-as-a-service API that enables instant quoting, binding, and issuance of commercial insurance policies for businesses. The company’s platform connects insurance underwriter systems to insurance companies allowing consumers to get quotes, pay online, and receive those insurance policies instantly. RELATED: Layoffs persist at Canadian tech companies amid a bleak outlook for 2023. The startup is a venture backed by angel investors that include McDerment and Munro, as well as 500 Startups and Investment Group of Santa Barbara. Briza’s most recently announced fundraising came in February 2021, a $10.2 million CAD Series A round that brought its total funding to date to $13.9 million CAD. Briza is not alone in its end-of-year staff reduction amid a tightening economic and fundraising environment. As 2022 comes to a close, BetaKit has learned from more than a dozen Canadian tech companies that continue to reduce headcounts as they look to weather what has been a difficult year, and prepare for a potentially tough 2023. While there are companies that continue to hire, a recent Indeed report found that job postings on its site for Canadian tech roles have dropped 32 percent since May, showing no current signs of stabilizing amid these conditions. According to Layoffs.fyi, 993 tech companies have cut 15,2542 employees globally in 2022.

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