Bustle Digital Group Buys Mic for an Estimated $5 Million

Publisher laid off most of its newsroom earlier today

Mic co-founder Chris Altchek's new role is not yet clear. Getty Images

Executives at digital news publisher Mic managed to lay off nearly the entire company and secure a new owner all in one day. The company, which launched with a splash as a go-to news source for millennials, is officially being sold to Bryan Goldberg’s Bustle Digital Group.

Sources say a cash-strapped Mic had been aggressively looking for a new buyer to no avail when a looming cancellation from Facebook to its Watch program, Mic Dispatch, made the publisher’s financial situation plummet from bad to desperate.

The Wall Street Journal estimated the deal to be worth $5 million, a significant discount on what it was valued at just a couple years ago. A spokeswoman for BDG confirmed the sale but declined to comment on the price.

The Mic Dispatch deal with Facebook could’ve potentially been worth millions, and the publisher made large investments in the programming, including bringing in new talent to get it off the ground for its July launch.

Amid rumblings that Mic was in talks to be sold to Goldberg and/or his company, executives gathered staffers earlier this morning and laid off the majority of them. While specifics are still unclear, the layoffs included at least 85 people ranging from branded content to editorial to sales. It’s also unclear exactly what will become of what BDG has acquired—including the remaining Mic staffers, mostly those in product development, and the company’s custom CMS.

“Shuttering an entire news operation at a moment’s notice, primarily as a result of an inexperienced leadership team and chronic mismanagement, cannot become the new norm in media,” said the NewsGuild of New York, which represented Mic staffers, in a statement. “We will continue to fight for each and every one of our members in the face of these cuts and explore all options available to us, legal and otherwise.”

Mic co-founders Jake Horowitz and Chris Altchek (the latter of whom is also CEO) and evp of revenue Sarah Iooss were expected to go to BDG, the New York Post reported earlier today. Mic Publisher Cory Haik told laid-off staffers in a memo that she was resigning, noting that Mic had “confounding” issues.

None of them responded to multiple requests for comment. BDG’s spokeswoman declined to comment further on the terms of the agreement.

Mic.com has seen a steep decline in traffic. In October 2015, the site had about 18 million unique monthly visitors, according to comScore figures, in the first year the company offered data. That has rapidly decreased to 5.5 million this October, the most recent month for which data is available.

Adweek technology reporter Kelsey Sutton, a former Mic reporter, contributed to this report.

@SaraJerde sara.jerde@adweek.com Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.