Vox layoffs latest sign of trouble for digital media

Vox Media’s plans to lay off about 50 employees is the latest sign of trouble in digital media, and comes after a wave of industry players missed their 2017 revenue targets and as they face a dicey advertising climate intensified by changes to Facebook’s news feed.

The pink slips, which involve around 5 percent of the digital-media company’s workforce, were announced in a memo from Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff to employees Wednesday. Beyond the workers getting laid off, about a dozen more will be offered different positions within the company, the memo said.

Bankoff noted “Industry changes over the past few months” in his memo as underlying factors for the cutbacks, which are being felt the most at Racked, Curbed, SB Nation and Vox Media’s video-services team. Initiatives including social media “won’t be viable audience or revenue growth drivers relative to other investments we are making,” he said. 

More than 60 percent of all digital advertising in the U.S. comes from Facebook and Google, and the former’s recent change to its news feed algorithm has heightened worries of further fallout for digital-media players.

At a recent industry conference, Bankoff said Vox Media would benefit from Facebook’s clamping down on phony news, adding that Vox Media would likely produce less content hosted by Facebook, noting “its unreliable monetization and promotion.”

Staff cuts were also announced this month at CNN Digital, where a few dozen, or less than 50, by one account, were given pink slips in a reduction that represented less than 10 percent of the unit’s 600 employees worldwide. The digital division came in $20 million short of revenue goals last year but remains profitable, producing $370 million in revenue in 2017.

In the last quarter of 2017, BuzzFeed, Mashable and Refinery29 all made substantial reductions in headcount. 

Vice Media missed its 2017 revenue targets by $100 million due to softness at its Viceland cable channel and digital-video operations. BuzzFeed also missed its revenue targets last year, and Mashable sold for $50 million, or just a fraction of its onetime value, in late 2017.

Addressing Wednesday’s layoffs in a statement posted on Twitter, the bargaining unit for Vox Media also noted the uncertain business environment. “We organized this union in large part because of instability in our industry,” the union committee said. 

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

Categories: Business

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *