Politics, news and editorial video slashed in Mashable restructuring - POLITICO

"Today we must part ways with some of our colleagues in order to focus our efforts," Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore wrote in a memo to staff. | Getty

By Peter Sterne and Hadas Gold

04/07/16 01:44 PM EDT

Updated 04/07/16 03:26 PM EDT

Mashable's restructuring on Thursday hit its news desk, politics desk and editorial video team particularly hard, sources at the company told POLITICO.

Mashable laid off around 30 staffers on Thursday, including three high-level editors, as part of a pivot toward non-news video content.

The company's entire politics desk (consisting of editor Juana Summers and two reporters) has been laid off, as well as most of its global news desk and about half of its editorial video team. Mashable Chief Revenue Officer Seth Rogin, Executive Editor Jim Roberts, Managing Editor Jonathan Ellis and Business Editor Heidi Moore also are leaving the company sources told POLITICO.

As of Thursday, Mashable’s masthead was no longer publicly available. The company’s “team” page, which listed its entire staff as recently as March 30, currently redirects to its generic “about” page.

Senior video producer Nadja Oertelt told POLITICO that she learned she had been laid off while on a field shoot in Ohio, just hours before she was scheduled to film a video at a hospital. Eight staffers on Oertelt's editorial video team were laid off; the remainder of the team will merge with Mashable Studios, the company's entertainment and branded video content division.

The news came as a shock to staffers, who said there was no warning that the changes were imminent.

"I'm still here for now, but really need to see where they want to take this company from here. Lotta' questions here about the whole 'no news' thing," one current editorial staffer said.

The company also announced on Thursday that it has hired Greg Gittrich as chief content officer to replace Roberts and Ed Wise as chief revenue officer to replace Rogin. Gittrich was previously at Vocativ, while Rogin was previously at Turner Broadcasting.

Turner Broadcasting led a $15 million investment round in Mashable just a week ago, with a particular emphasis on producing TV shows.

On Twitter, CNN Vice President Ed O'Keefe hinted at possible content sharing with Mashable, saying that nothing is definitive, but that they might cooperate on video Mashable's predictive social analytics tool Velocity.

"As you know we recently announced a funding round to expand our storytelling to television. ... To reflect these changes, we must organize our teams in a different way. Unfortunately, this has led us to a very tough decision. Today we must part ways with some of our colleagues in order to focus our efforts," Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore wrote in a memo to staff, which he later published on Linkedin.

In a company-wide meeting on Thursday afternoon, sources told POLITICO that Cashmore said the company expects to be profitable this year and that the moves were a way to put themselves "in the right place for the future of the company."

Cashmore said it would have been much more "disingenuous" to gradually move teams around, according to sources in attendance. The surprise announcements on Thursday were part of a big pivot in strategy for the company, and what Cashmore said was the "least disruptive" to those at the company and "kindest" to those who are leaving.

As for the new direction of the company, Cashmore hinted at the importance and influence of advertisers, noting that now advertisers are no longer separate from the story and want to be "telling stories with us" and no longer "buying media" for an audience.

“Branded content is the business model for media going forward" Cashmore told staff. "It’s very, very clear that branded content is the future."

Asked about Mashable’s editorial focus, Cashmore compared it to old-school MTV, explaining that the site covers culture through the lens of technology the same way that the cable network once covered culture through the lens of music.

Also at the meeting, COO Mike Kriak seemed to implicitly criticize the sales team for failing expectations, saying that while they grew revenue last year by 28 percent, the expectation in the budget was for around 45 percent of growth. While the first two quarters of this year look good for the company financially, Kriak emphasized the need to "focus on branded content, to work with Mashable Studios.

On Friday, Gittrich will meet with Mashable's editorial team, Wise will meet with the sales team, and Mashable Studios chief Eric Korsh will meet with the video teams.

A spokesman for Mashable declined to comment on the number of layoffs.

Hadas Gold is a reporter at Politico.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/on-media/2016/04/politics-news-and-editorial-video-slashed-in-mashable-restructuring-221683