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Deadspin fires entire staff after sale to European publisher

The Deadspin website as it appeared early Monday morning. (Screen capture by The Desk)
The Deadspin website as it appeared early Monday morning. (Screen capture by The Desk)

The entire editorial staff at sports-centric gossip website Deadspin was fired on Monday, about an hour after employees were notified that the brand had been sold to a new publisher.

In a memo sent to workers, G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller affirmed the company had received an unsolicited offer from a startup firm called Lineup Publishing, which decided it would “not carry over any of the site’s existing staff and instead build a new team more in line with their editorial vision for the brand.”

It wasn’t exactly clear what Lineup plans to do with the Deadspin name, or what direction the website will go once the dead is finalized. Specific financial terms of the arrangement were not available.

Like other media brands, G/O Media has been impacted by a slowdown in the digital advertising industry over the past few years, with the company working to reorient parts of its business in order to accommodate those changes.

“As I mentioned in our all-hands meeting in December, we are always actively reviewing our portfolio and operations to make sure we are prioritizing resources to best meet the needs of our readers and advertisers,” Spanfeller wrote on Monday. “Although we are seeing some improvement so far this year on the advertising front, and I am cautiously optimistic this will continue, we are cognizant of the need to focus on the core sites we feel can best prosper in the current and future media business environment.”

“These decisions are never easy, but this represents a step to keep G/O Media focused, nimble, and financially sound into the future,” he affirmed.

Affected employees at Deadspin were reportedly given just enough time to gather their belongings and leave the G/O Media office, if they were not working remotely.

Some workers said they suspected something was up when they were locked out of certain online platforms associated with their job, including e-mail and Slack.

“Already locked out a company slack and our laptops,” Julie DiCaro, a former senior writer at Deadspin, tweeted before locking down her X (formerly Twitter) account.

The full memo sent by G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller appears below:

I have some news to share regarding one of our sites in the G/O Media portfolio.  Recently we were approached by the European firm Lineup Publishing expressing interest in purchasing Deadspin to add to their growing media holdings. Lineup Publishing is a newly formed digital media company described in their words as dedicated to creating, acquiring and managing high quality media brands across a variety of sectors.’

After careful consideration, the G/O Media board of directors has decided to accept their offer. I do want to make it clear that we were not actively shopping Deadspin. The rationale behind the decision to sell included a variety of important factors that include the buyer’s editorial plans for the brand, tough competition in the sports journalism sector, and a valuation that reflected a sizable premium from our original purchase price for the site.   

 
Deadspin’s new owners have made the decision to not carry over any of the site’s existing staff and instead build a new team more in line with their editorial vision for the brand. While the new owners plan to be reverential to Deadpin’s [sic] unique voice, they plan to take a different content approach regarding the site’s overall sports coverage.

This unfortunately means that we will be parting ways with those impacted staff members, who were notified earlier today.  I would like to thank them for their hard work and efforts that helped make Deadspin stand out in the crowded sports media space.

 
As I mentioned at our all-hands meeting in December, we are always actively reviewing our portfolio and operations to make sure we are prioritizing resources to best meet the needs of our readers and advertisers. Although we are seeing some improvement so far this year on the advertising front, and I am cautiously optimistic this will continue, we are cognizant of the need to focus on the core sites we feel can best prosper in the current and future media business environment. 

These decisions are never easy, but this represents a step to keep G/O Media focused, nimble, and financially sound into the future.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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