ONLINE MEDIA

Layoffs at Austin-based newspaper of the web, The Daily Dot

Posted September 16th, 2016

Austin-based media company Daily Dot, an online publication that covers news and culture of the Internet, has laid off about 15 staffers, according to reports that originated at Politico.

It's unclear how many more who worked for the site than the 15 were affected as the company is restructuring its business to focus on video, e-commerce and sales.

When The American-Statesman wrote about the site in January, it was publishing about 50-60 articles a day with a staff of 75 and 200 contributors around the world. It launched in 2011 and of late had been expanding into areas such as e-sports, expanding online video and more investigative work with hopes of becoming a 24-hour global news organization. It began to turn a profit in late 2014 and had an average of 11 to 14 million unique visitors a month.

The company's founder and CEO Nicholas White, who came from a family line of journalists in the newspaper industry, said in a statement that the layoffs are necessary for the long-term sustainability of the publication and that it will refocus on the areas it sees are growing. 

He said:

There’s no way around it. Letting people go sucks, especially when those people are really good at their jobs. We’re working very hard to find our colleagues a new home.Big picture, our product is great, our traffic is great, and our business is great. The Board’s confidence is high. Our management team is focused. I’m especially happy about our success with video, e-commerce, diversified non-Facebook traffic, and sales.

Politico reports that the company is slashing its freelance budget, which could affect an unknown number of contributors. One of writers affected by the cuts who asked not to have their name used, told the Statesman, "I do know that the people who remain don't have an optimistic outlook for the site."

On Twitter Friday, laid off employees and staffers still listing themselves as employed by Daily Dot sent out messages of praise about those now seeking work.

Sarah Ellen Weber, an editor at Daily Dot Tweeted of AJ Dellinger, "AJ is an incredibly sharp Tech reporters and a great guy. Hire him!" 

You can read the full statement from White below:

We let several people go today as part of a restructuring.

While this move is without a doubt the right thing for the long-term sustainability of the Dot, this was an exceedingly tough decision to make.

We expect headcount to grow back to yesterday's level soon, as we hire more people in areas like video, e-commerce and sales.

I say "restructuring" on purpose. We are rebalancing which departments and coverage areas are most heavily staffed, as a reflection of where our business is growing. We are cutting back in areas that are not working as well, so that we can double down elsewhere.

Zooming out, we have always invested in new areas of coverage and new lines of business. Many of those bets have paid off. I take pride in the fact that we march to the beat of our own drum. But we’re not always right, not by a long shot. Unfortunately in media today things move quickly and turn on a dime. We need to stay lock-step with our audience.

There’s no way around it. Letting people go sucks, especially when those people are really good at their jobs. We’re working very hard to find our colleagues a new home.

Big picture, our product is great, our traffic is great, and our business is great. The Board’s confidence is high. Our management team is focused. I’m especially happy about our success with video, e-commerce, diversified non-Facebook traffic, and sales.

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