Tough times, hard decisions.

Given the challenging economic environment, we’ve decided to cut costs at Mahalo.

Although we’ve got a significant amount of cash on hand, and the business is ahead of schedule in terms of traffic (4m uniques a month, double where we thought we would be at this point), we’re fairly certain that the advertising climate for the next two years will be severely depressed. To ignore this obvious fact would be irresponsible.

We’ve laid off a just under 10% of our full-time staff, cut our overhead by doing smart things like renting desks (we have six offices in Santa Monica fyi), and reorganized our editorial department to focus on freelance positions over in-house editors. The net result of the effort is we are giving Mahalo another year of “dry power” (or runway) to complete our mission.

We can now operate past 2012 even if we never make any advertising revenue, and truth be told building advertising-based companies is my specialty (the last two, Silicon Alley Reporter and Weblogs, Inc. each broke 10m a year revenue between their third and forth years). Perhaps we’re being too conservative, but I’ve rarely heard of companies that went out of business because they made cuts too early, and I’ve heard of many who have reported the opposite.

As the CEO of the company, the responsibility for these cuts are mine and mine alone. Obviously, I did anticipate that the market would correct and that is why we raised $20 million over two rounds of funding before we launched. That move ensures that Mahalo will be able to get to profitability and ride through what is sure to be a very deep and painful recession.

While I anticipated and prepared for the ‘internet winter’ we’re now facing (you’ve read my posts and e-mails about the startup depression I’m sure), I failed to realize how bad the situation would get. It’s much worse than I thought it would be, and ignoring market conditions today would only mean deeper cuts down the road.

It’s my responsibility to make this hard decision and I don’t take it lightly. To the people impacted I’m very sorry that I wasn’t able to anticipate this better. It’s my fault and I’m sorry that you’ve got to bear the burden of my inability to better prepare.