G/O Media Shutters Splinter, Lays Off Staff

Shutdown comes 6 months after Great Hill Partners acquired media group

Splinter logo
Staff received the news in a note Thursday morning. Splinter

G/O Media, the company formerly known as Gizmodo Media Group, has shuttered its news vertical Splinter and laid off the site’s staff.

“As of today, Splinter will cease publication,” Splinter editor in chief Aleksander Chan wrote in a tweet Thursday morning. “It has been my greatest honor to have been the editor of this site and I will love this staff to my dying breath. Thank you to all of our readers, fans and haters—it’s been a thrill. Further details TK. Splinter forever.”

Paul Maidment, the editorial director of G/O Media, announced the news in a note to staff Thursday morning.

“Despite the hard work of everyone on that staff, which has produced much outstanding journalism and great scoops, establishing a steady and sustainable audience for a relatively young site has proved challenging in a fiercely competitive sector,” Maidment wrote. “Given that reality, the leadership team has taken the extremely difficult decision to cease the site’s operations and redistribute the headcount to our other sites to increase the impact the editorial department can have overall.”

The shutdown means Splinter’s entire staff—which included more than half a dozen writers and editors—was laid off. While Maidment wrote in the memo that the company’s “goal, wherever possible, will be to retain current Splinter staff members in open positions at other G/O Media sites,” not one has been retained as a G/O Media employee.

“It’s true! Splinter is shutting down and we’re all being laid off,” tweeted Jack Mirkinson, the site’s managing editor. “This is by far the best job I’ve ever had and I will be forever proud of everything we’ve done together.”

In a statement, GMG Union, which represents Splinter staff members, wrote that it was negotiating severance and next steps in the wake of the layoffs, which the union was informed of Thursday morning.

“Splinter did the kind of fearless and adversarial journalism that represents the very best of our sites,” the union wrote in a statement. “This loss hurts, and we’re worse off for it—particularly in the lead-up to one of the most consequential elections of our lifetimes. Splinter forever.”

The shutdown comes just about six months after the private equity firm Great Hill Partners acquired the media company from Univision and renamed it from Gizmodo Media Group to G/O Media. At the time, CEO Jim Spanfeller, the former CEO of Forbes, said he did not “plan to cut our way to growth,” but there have been several rounds of layoffs and high-profile departures.

The new leadership has proved controversial inside the company. Deadspin, one of the news brands under the G/O Media umbrella, in August published a deeply critical look at Spanfeller’s leadership at the company.

Splinter launched in July 2017 as a rebrand of the news and politics site Fusion when Gizmodo Media Group was still owned by Univision. At the time, the site’s then-editor in chief described the site’s mission as being “justice-minded, inclusive and incisive” in its reporting and analysis.

@kelseymsutton kelsey.sutton@adweek.com Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.