Chicago T-shirt maker Threadless, crowdsourcing pioneer, cuts jobs – Crain's Chicago Business

Threadless made the cover of Inc. magazine in 2008.

Threadless, the Chicago-based T-shirt maker once called “the most innovative small company in America,” is laying off staff.
In a post on the company’s blog late yesterday, founder Jake Nickell wrote: “I just made one of the most difficult decisions in the 13 years since Threadless began. As a result of this decision, I had to let many of my friends and colleagues know that they no longer have a place here working at Threadless.
“Over the past few years, we’ve experimented with new and exciting ways to create meaningful, game-changing opportunities for artists. While some of these initiatives worked really well, others did not. Today, we stop working on some of the projects that weren’t clear winners. We know now where we need to be investing our time and effort, and I believe these are the key projects that will propel Threadless forward.”
Jake Nickell
Mr. Nickell didn’t say in his post how many staffers were let go, nor how many employees the company has.
Threadless was one of the hot startups in Chicago before the recent resurgence of tech. It attracted attention and a cadre of smart, creative technologists because it used the web to crowdsource designs for T-shirts.
Among its alums are Harper Reed, who went on to become chief technology officer for the 2012 Obama re-election campaign and software engineer Dylan Richard. In 2008, Inc. magazine bestowed the innovation crown on Threadless in a cover story.

Threadless raised its profile in the past couple of years, inking deals with major retailers and brands such as Gap, Bed Bath & Beyond and Dell Inc. Revenue soared from $6 million to more than $30 million between 2005 and 2012.
CEO Tom Ryan headed the company for four years but stepped down in December 2012 to return to Los Angeles.
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