After news came out on Wednesday that millennial-focused website Mic is in talks to sell to Bustle, the company informed employees Thursday morning that a majority of the staff would be laid off in anticipation of any deal.
Recode reported this morning Mic CEO Chris Altchek announced the layoffs at a staff meeting today. According to sources, all of the 100+ Mic employees—which includes reporters, editors, sales, social media, and more—have been laid off, though Recode notes that under the proposed terms of the Bustle deal, "Altchek and co-founder Jake Horowitz would stay on after the acquisition." Former employees also tell us that they will receive severance through December.
an awful day in media. there are so many incredibly talented, creative and hardworking people at Mic who were doing important, powerful work even while the company crumbled around them. none of them deserve this
— kelsey sutton (@kelseymsutton) November 29, 2018
I've considered Mic a bad entity ever since it laid off a pregnant editor. Bustle eating up the entirety of New York digital contractor media (Elite Daily, etc.) that way outpaced itself seemed more like an inevitability than a surprise https://t.co/f9I6yrBhUk
— Tonya Riley (@TonyaJoRiley) November 29, 2018
Despite Mic, which was founded in 2011, raising more than $60 million in venture funding from backers, it "couldn't find a business model to support its costs, which include a two-floor office in Manhattan’s World Trade Center." As many have noted, the company was dependent on Facebook traffic, and things became especially grim after Facebook recently cancelled the company's Facebook Watch program Mic Dispatch. During this morning's meeting, Altchek noted that the cancellation meant "funding has dried up and dramatically reduced interest from potential acquirers and investors."
One of the most pernicious concepts in digital media is the odd idea that "creating media for millennials" should just mean "pandering to Facebook algorithms"
— Zach Schonfeld (@zzzzaaaacccchhh) November 29, 2018
"There are a lot of tears in here right now, but the truth is that this has felt like a long time coming, and some people are relieved to finally have an answer about what the future of the company will be," a Mic employee who was laid off today, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Gothamist. "Mic is a cautionary tale about what happens when publishers go all in on Facebook, bet big, and lose. They’re not lying when they say that Facebook canning the Dispatch show was the death blow, but the truth is that there were a hundred bad decisions made by executives up until that point that got Mic to where it is today."
In 2017, Mic joined other high-profile websites in a now widely-derided "pivot to video" strategy in an attempt to find a new source of ad revenue through Facebook. "We made these tough decisions because we believe deeply in our vision to make Mic the leader in visual journalism and we need to focus the company to deliver on our mission," Altchek wrote at the time. "As new platforms emerge and existing platforms continue to grow, we believe this will become a dominant form of news consumption for our audience."