Bustle Digital Group acquires Mic after massive layoffs

The digital news company Mic has laid off most of its staff, a spokesperson for the company confirmed....

Posted: Nov 30, 2018 5:32 AM
Updated: Nov 30, 2018 5:32 AM

The digital news company Mic has laid off most of its staff, a spokesperson for the company confirmed.

The layoffs were first reported Thursday by Recode.

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Journalism and news media

Media industry

Employee termination

Employment and income status

Human resources and personnel management

Labor and employment

Layoffs

Personnel changes

Personnel management

Social and economic status

Society

Unemployment

Workers and professionals

It is not yet clear exactly how many employees were affected. Mic declined to comment beyond confirming the Recode report.

The company was founded in 2011, and for the past several years has branded itself asa news website geared toward millennials.

Mic Publisher Cory Haik also resigned Thursday. In a note to staff that was obtained by CNN Business, Haik called journalism a "tough business."

"Our business models are unsettled, and the macro forces at play are all going through their own states of unrest," she wrote. "If anyone tells you they have it figured out, a special plan to save us all, or that it's all due to a singular fault, know that is categorically false. Like the truth, it is indeed complicated."

The layoffs happened just before Bustle Digital Group announced to its staff that the publication acquired Mic. In an email to Bustle staff that was obtained by CNN Business, Bustle founder and CEO Bryan Goldberg said the company plans to "relaunch" Mic.

"There has been a lot of news about Mic today. They have navigated some tough waters in the last year, and today was an especially difficult one," Goldberg wrote. "Our company is in a unique position to create a bright future for Mic."

Bustle confirmed the acquisition to CNN Business on Thursday afternoon.

Mic was once a digital media darling, attracting around $60 million in funding from investors. Its biggest backers included Lightspeed Venture Partners, Clark Jermoluk Founders Fund, WPP and WarnerMedia. (WarnerMedia owns CNN.)

The company's staff swelled to more than 100 people by early 2016, according to The New York Times, which asked in an article published at the time: "What happens when millennials run the workplace?"

But the climate is a tough one for digital media publishers right now. Ad revenue alone hasn't been enough to support these businesses, and Google and Facebook have substantial control over the ad market.

Refinery29, HuffPost and Vocativ have all cut staff in the past year. So have CNN Digital, Vice and BuzzFeed.

Mic laid off 25 employees in August 2017 as part of a pivot to video. Co-founder and CEO Chris Altchek told staff at the time that the shift was needed because "visual journalism already makes up 75% of the time that our audience spends" with the site.

There were signs this year that the environment wasn't improving for Mic. Digiday reported in April that traffic to Mic's website had been plunging.

The article also noted that Mic was very reliant on Facebook, citing statistics that showed views on the social media site fell to 11 million views in March compared to 192 million about a year earlier.

Still, company executives pushed back on some reports that characterized the situation at Mic as particularly dire. When the Columbia Journalism Review reported in September that the company's board discussed a possible shutdown, Altchek called the report "categorically false."

Abu Zafar, who worked as a digital platforms editor at Mic, told CNN Business that the staff expected layoffs, but nothing at the scale that was announced Thursday.

"This was sprung on us within a day," Zafar said. "Rumors flew yesterday, and we walked in this morning and it was all over."

Zafar said he had already decided to leave the company before the layoffs were announced, and had other work lined up. But others weren't in the same position.

"There's a better way Mic's leadership could have handled this and given enough warning and notice to its employees," he added. "But now they are going to be going into the holidays with this immediately sprung on them."

Emily Singer, a senior political reporter at Mic, tweeted Thursday that she was leaving the company.

"I'm so proud of what we've accomplished here," Singer wrote.

Kerry Lauerman, Mic's executive news director, tweeted about the "gutting experience" Thursday.

"But only love for the extremely resilient and open-hearted team of Mic editors, producers, writers and shooters I had the great honor of working with," he added. "They performed brilliantly often under a cloud of uncertainty."

Reached by phone, Lauerman declined to comment further, saying only that the team was packing up all of their things.

Several other employees also tweeted news of their departures.

"I have so much to say, but most importantly the time I spent at @mic was the best of my career," wrote Managing Editor Colleen Curry. "I learned so, so much from brilliant people dedicated to keeping journalism alive."

The company's workers had also voted to unionize earlier this year, and were represented by the NewsGuild of New York. In a statement Thursday, the guild called the layoffs an "egregious act."

"Shuttering an entire news operation at a moment's notice, primarily as a result of an inexperienced leadership team and chronic mismanagement, cannot become the new norm in media," the NewsGuild said in a statement. "We will continue to fight for each and every one of our members in the face of these cuts, and explore all options available to us, legal and otherwise."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 57162

Reported Deaths: 1660
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin18197820
Ramsey7047261
Dakota4049103
Anoka3410113
Stearns284220
Washington193843
Nobles17496
Olmsted163523
Scott141017
Mower10842
Rice10028
Blue Earth8595
Wright8205
Carver7922
Clay75240
Kandiyohi6771
Sherburne6577
St. Louis45319
Todd4202
Lyon4163
Freeborn3551
Steele3331
Nicollet32013
Benton3103
Watonwan2990
Winona24916
Crow Wing21313
Martin2045
Le Sueur2021
Beltrami2000
Chisago1821
Otter Tail1793
Goodhue1778
Cottonwood1730
Becker1471
Pipestone1439
McLeod1400
Unassigned14040
Polk1353
Itasca13412
Douglas1320
Waseca1300
Pine1280
Carlton1260
Dodge1230
Murray1221
Isanti1100
Chippewa991
Brown852
Faribault840
Meeker832
Morrison821
Wabasha820
Sibley802
Rock750
Koochiching743
Pennington731
Jackson700
Mille Lacs683
Cass622
Fillmore610
Renville605
Lincoln540
Swift521
Grant511
Yellow Medicine490
Roseau460
Pope450
Houston390
Norman370
Hubbard320
Redwood320
Marshall290
Kanabec281
Wilkin283
Aitkin270
Mahnomen241
Wadena230
Big Stone220
Red Lake200
Lake180
Stevens160
Clearwater150
Traverse100
Lac qui Parle60
Kittson30
Cook20
Lake of the Woods10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 46100

Reported Deaths: 887
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk9781203
Woodbury365651
Black Hawk302262
Linn214587
Johnson195915
Dallas179635
Buena Vista178612
Scott161512
Dubuque154929
Marshall139424
Pottawattamie122723
Story111714
Wapello85032
Muscatine83048
Webster7366
Crawford7213
Sioux6022
Cerro Gordo57917
Tama53929
Warren5341
Jasper45825
Wright4441
Plymouth4438
Louisa37814
Dickinson3754
Clinton3213
Washington28810
Hamilton2411
Boone2312
Franklin2256
Bremer1927
Clarke1883
Carroll1821
Emmet1812
Clay1711
Shelby1691
Hardin1660
Marion1550
Allamakee1504
Poweshiek1508
Benton1451
Jackson1411
Des Moines1392
Mahaska13617
Floyd1312
Guthrie1285
Jones1242
Cedar1201
Hancock1172
Butler1152
Buchanan1141
Henry1143
Pocahontas1141
Lyon1060
Madison1052
Clayton993
Cherokee981
Harrison980
Lee973
Taylor930
Humboldt921
Delaware911
Iowa901
Monona900
Winneshiek861
Mills830
Calhoun822
Fayette810
Sac810
Palo Alto800
Kossuth780
Osceola780
Jefferson770
Winnebago770
Mitchell760
Page760
Grundy741
Union721
Monroe677
Worth610
Chickasaw510
Davis501
Lucas504
Howard490
Cass481
Montgomery453
Appanoose433
Greene380
Fremont350
Van Buren331
Keokuk311
Ida290
Audubon281
Decatur220
Adair210
Ringgold211
Wayne181
Adams160
Unassigned00
Rochester
Overcast
62° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 62°
Mason City
Overcast
63° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 63°
Albert Lea
Scattered Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 63°
Austin
64° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 64°
Charles City
Overcast
63° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 63°
Spotty showers tonight, higher chances for the weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

North Iowa baseball players named to All-Star series

Image

Rising above adversity

Image

Rochester Diversity Council Wants to "Lift Every Voice"

Image

Gov. Reynolds Signs Executive Order Allowing Some Felons to Vote

Image

A resurgent local dairy business

Image

Sara's 10PM Forecast - Wednesday

Image

MN #2 in US for Health Care

Image

Olmsted Health and Human Services healthy budget

Image

Case numbers falling in Iowa

Image

One Book, One Minnesota

Community Events