Gawker Media Publisher Nick Denton: “Our company has a ‘survival’ mentality.”

By Matt Van Hoven 

In an incredibly transparent post/e-mail called Friday is Always Black, Nick Denton, publisher of Gawker Media, extols the reasoning behind cutting 19 staffers and hiring 10 more even though his sites’ ad sales are up some 30 percent.

In old-school newser fashion, Denton posted the story on a Friday (last Friday, in fact), the day of the week where stories are leaked as our minds focus on weekend plans. It was tactful move, not unlike his decision to cut jobs in the first place, even though his company is growing (Gawker dot com is up to 24 million hits last month from just 8 million in December of last year, according to Denton).

We interviewed Denton just hours after the story broke. His decision, and the explanation behind it, set an example for the kind of transparency that prevents the rumor mill from over-churning. What he did and how he did it at first seemed counter-intuitive; but upon re-examination, his move sets an example for how companies may want to tighten up during these financially strenuous times.

Matt: Removing the sites that are hurting from the equation, what do the ad sales numbers look like for the year? This quarter v Q2/Q1?

Denton: We don’t break revenue down by site. But I think it’s safe to assume that Gizmodo and Gawker do well with gadget and tune-in advertising respectively. And Kotaku has this year become a must-buy for video game releases.

Matt: Can you give me a salary comparison for the jobs you’re cutting versus those you’re adding? How much are you spending on the new jobs &#151 and how much are you saving from the layoffs?

Denton: The new jobs on balance pay about the same as the positions we’re cutting.

Matt: Will the laid-off staff be compensated? If so, please detail as best you can.

Read the rest of the story, after the jump.

Denton: Sorry, can’t detail. But pretty standard.

Matt: I get the perception, given your strategy, that your company exists based on a “survival of the fittest” mentality among the ranks. Do you feel that you risked editorial loyalty by cutting 19 jobs, only to hire 10 more? If so, what does that mean to you?

Denton: Our company has a “survival” mentality. I care about the job security of the 114 people not affected by these cuts.

Matt: I regularly ask CEOs, Presidents etc. why they didn’t cut back earlier (as you are doing), before they absolutely had to. Most answer that they want to breed loyalty and security among the rank and file. You seem to operate in just opposite way. Why?

Denton: (Ed’s note: No response submitted)

Matt: Before laying off those 19, did you (or someone in your staff) try to find other ways to utilize their skills within the company? Was there no way to “recycle” them? Was it absolutely necessary to replace them? If not, why do it? If so, why? Are you making a statement? To whom?

Denton: Yes, we are trying to place people elsewhere in the group. And are likely to succeed in a couple of places. For instance, Dashiell Bennett from Fleshbot will be writing on Deadspin. And Jackson West of Valleywag is trying out on Lifehacker.

Matt: On your managing editor replacement, Gabriel Snyder; Why have you chosen to replace yourself? Gabriel has an independent attitude/style. How involved to you plan to be in editorial?

Denton: I felt I’d done my job. Monthly pageviews on have gone from 8m in December to 24m last month. And I’d announced after Labor Day that I was finally looking for a replacement. My tenure was supposed to be much shorter! And I have just a few other responsibilities.

See the original e-mail/post that was posted on Gawker, here

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