Citizen, the controversial crime-reporting app that recently doxed Billie Eilish’s family address, has reportedly let go of 33 workers including 10 engineers according to a report from TechCrunch.
The company did not disclose the reasons that led to this decision but it is highly likely that its financial performance may have suffered due to the latest spike in inflation and the resulting economic pain from the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike.
“We are grateful to all of our departing team members for their contributions to Citizen and are committed to supporting them through this transition with a generous severance package that includes accelerated option vesting and extended exercise window, six months of COBRA payments, career services support and other benefits”, a spokesperson for Citizen told the tech magazine.
Despite these layoffs, the company’s website is displaying five open positions for engineering and marketing roles including one for Senior Backend Engineer.
According to data from SensorTower, Citizen has brought $30.3 million in revenue from in-app purchases and the app has been downloaded more than 14 million times since it was launched in 2016.
Back in 2021, the company behind the app, Sp0n Inc, raised $73 million during its Series C funding round. Last year, it reportedly generated $1.4 million in gross spending per month. The firm’s financial performance has been improving lately as a result of the launch of a subscription service called Protect that allows people to get access to an agent who can assist them by calling first responders and policemen during a crisis.
What is Citizen?
Citizen is a mobile app that encourages real-life crime reporting by individuals. The app allows users to record and report incidents that are occurring nearby. Notifications are sent to the community whenever an event occurs so they can stay safe.
Bystanders become reporters and witnesses if any criminal action is happening and other users can make comments once a post is published to ask for further information. Meanwhile, authorities can also use citizen to assess the severity of the situation before they respond to the crisis.
Citizen is a free app. However, the firm recently launched a paid service called Protect that costs $19.99 per month. The firm claims to have assisted users in locating more than 1,000 missing people and nearly the same number of missing pets.
A “Protect Agent” can be reached out instantly via video, audio, or instant messaging and they can help users contact authorities if they feel they are in danger or if they are experiencing any kind of crisis that demands the involvement of authorities and first responders.
Citizen is available for both iOS and Android devices and reported has more than 9 million users. In the Apple App Store, it has received a 4.8-stars rating after more than 352,000 reviews. Meanwhile, on the Google Play Store, it has received a rating of 4.2 stars after 66,300 reviews.
Citizen Has Been Criticized Many Times for Privacy Violations
Citizen has been the subject of controversy in multiple occasions. Earlier this month, the app leaked the address of Billie Eilish’s family in Highland Park. The push notification asserted that a burglary attempt was taking place and that authorities had been notified of the incident.
Nearly 200,000 people received the notification and almost half of them viewed it. Citizen showed a complete disregard for the privacy of Eilish’s family in this particular occasions. This has been a recurrent topic of debate about the app’s positive contribution to people’s safety.
In 2021, the Chief Executive Officer of Citizen, Andre Frame, offered a $30,000 bounty for anyone who located an individual who allegedly set a wildfire in the Palisades area. It turned out that Frame had the wrong person. At the time, the CEO released a picture of the suspect and potentially caused discomfort to the person involved as his whereabouts were reported by those who used the platform.
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