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Crawling from the wreckage

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编辑: 1   作者: Techcrunch   时间: 2019/3/26 11:03:48  

Things are tough all over — but especially in the digital media business of 2018.

Probably the most high-profile flame-out this year was at Mic, which laid off most of its staff ahead of an acquisition by Bustle. Mic had raised nearly $60 million in funding, with major media organizations like Time Warner and Bertelsmann writing checks for the company's vision of delivering news to a millennial audience.

But Mic's issues were just the capstone to a long year of shutdowns and layoffs. Among the headlines:

  • Vice instituted a hiring freeze with the goal of shrinking headcount by up to 15 percent.
  • Blaming Facebook algorithm changes, LittleThings looked like it was going to shut down before getting acquired by RockYou, whose digital publishing strategy seems to be facing some challenges of its own.
  • Refinery29 laid off around 10 percent of its staff and said it expects to miss its revenue projections for the year by 5 percent.
  • BuzzFeed shuttered its in-house podcast team?(though this reportedly only involved laying off a "handful" of employees).

  • Vox Media laid off around 50 people. It also announced plans to fold its tech news site Recode into its general news publication Vox.com.
  • Gizmodo Media Group cut its staff with a round of buyouts.
  • Good Media Group, which owns Upworthy and Good Magazine, laid off 31 employees.
  • The Outline laid off all its staff writers.
  • Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter shut down.
  • Rookie shut down.
  • Defy Media shut down.

It may not be entirely fair to group these stories together — some companies likely failed because of specific management or business issues, while others fell victim to broader shifts and still others may bounce back. But collectively, they paint a picture of an industry under intense pressure.

Peter Csathy, an industry veteran and occasional TechCrunch columnist, has just published a book, "Fearless Media," about the changes in the media landscape.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Csathy argued that it's become a best-of-times, worst-of-times world. The worst-of-times side seems obvious — the companies that are struggling due to the "devastation of certain business models," particularly reliance on big platforms like Facebook, and on an online ad business that's currently "under tremendous pressure."

At the same time, he said, "The best of times are the companies like Netflix, the Amazons, the Apples — some of these major new tech-driven media companies."

Of course, Amazon and Apple make most of their money outside the media business, leaving Netflix as the industry's big success story.?But even there, Csathy predicted that in 2019, "Netflix will be challenged like never before" as it tries to compete with a vast array of new streaming services, many of them created by the same companies that have been selling content to Netflix.

A remote control is seen being held in front of a television running the Netflix application on October 25, 2017. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)