Big Layoffs Come to Progressive Online Media Conglomerate, Vox

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Vox Media is laying off “around seven percent” of its workforce, according to a furious statement released by the company’s union Twitter account on Friday.


They used the word “furious” themselves, that’s not me editorializing.

About 130 people are getting pink slips.

CEO Jim Bankoff told employees in a memo, “Unfortunately, in this economic climate, we’re not able to sustain projects and areas of the business that have not performed as anticipated.” Layoffs will affect “several different teams across Revenue, Editorial, Operations, and Core Services.

Learn to code” seems to be the general consensus on right-leaning Twitter.

The union hasn’t revealed any details about why Vox Media’s handling was so infuriating. Maybe it’s just a union’s job to be furious about this kind of thing, or maybe Vox’s progressive management is behaving badly. I’m keeping my eyes open for more news.

Vox Media’s sites include SB Nation, The Verge, Polygon, Eater, New York magazine, and perhaps most famously, Vox, the young adult infotainment site founded in 2011 to provide the one correct explanation for complex issues — from a progressive viewpoint, naturally.


The company isn’t publically traded but does not appear to be profitable, at least not regularly. The more I look into how they’re structured, the more top-heavy they appear — and that’s not sustainable. I know a thing or two about this kind of thing, having experienced it firsthand.

I was proud to be a part of PJTV when it first launched in 2008, and stayed that way until the studio finally went dark eight years later.

But PJTV’s problem was right there in the word “studio.”

We had a very nice one in Los Angeles, with a full crew manning the most advanced equipment money could buy at the time. They built a mini TV studio in my own basement, complete with a Sony video conferencing camera rigged up to a dedicated T1 line. It was remotely controlled in realtime by the director in LA.

I don’t know what it cost to run that studio, but it was a lot.

In the early days of internet video, there just wasn’t a large enough addressable market to justify that kind of expense. The video outlets that did eventually succeed back then were much leaner operations.

Still, I got to meet and work with some amazing people I otherwise never would have, and for that, I’ll always be grateful.


Vox Media has now been around longer than PJTV was. They’re big and they’re growing, but at least some of that growth seems to be through acquisitions (like New York magazine), which is another expensive proposition.

Bad times can hit any organization, and judging by other recent layoff announcements at very profitable firms like Alphabet and Microsoft, bad times are coming for a lot of corporations, large and small, and their employees.

But at least from this outsider’s view, the very smart people whose job it is to provide all the very smart, progressive explanations, haven’t been very smart about how to be lean, mean, and profitable.

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