The latest development came on Tuesday with the layoffs of seven people and the announcement that the company’s flagship Gawker.com is turning into a politics site. Not only that, but founder Nick Denton said in a memo that the company “will no longer seek to develop Kinja as an open blogging platform,” a reversal from his 2011 declaration that Gawker is a “tech company.”
While the layoffs come as a surprise, the political focus for Gawker.com is not: Alex Pareene, long known for his biting political commentary, was named editor-in-chief in October after months of instability at the company trigged by a story published in July naming a media executive who hired a gay escort. Two top editors resigned after the story was taken down. Several writers and editors left.
The Awl reports that Scott Kidder, the chief operating officer, is leaving by the end of the year. If true, that would mean that only two of the company’s six managing partners named at the end of last year remain with the firm: Denton and President Heather Dietrick.
In the wake of the controversy, Denton promised Gawker would be “20 percent nicer,” but a Gawker source told The Awl, “We’re finding out who got laid off by looking at the list of disabled Slack accounts.”
(Full disclosure: I worked with Pareene at Racket, the satirical politics site that never launched, and Racket Teen, a protest blog with GIFs.)