The digital news outlet Insider changed its name back to “Business Insider” on Tuesday, and said that its co-founder, Henry Blodget, has stepped down as CEO.
Barbara Peng has taken the top role at the publication, which was bought by German media conglomerate Axel Springer in 2015. Peng served as president of the publication since 2021, and started working there as vice president of research in 2015.
“I am grateful to Henry Blodget,” Peng wrote in a note posted to the site early Tuesday. “What we love about this place — our spirit, our readers, our commitment to building a beloved and sustainable journalism company — all began with Henry 16 years ago,” she said, pointing to the 2007 founding of the publication as “Silcon Alley Insider.”
It changed its name to “Business Insider” two years later, and dropped the “Business ” in front of the name three years ago in an attempt to widen its audience with more general news.
“Henry created and cultivated who we are today, and it’s his leadership and vision that enabled us to survive and thrive as many other media companies fell away,” the new CEO wrote.
Indeed, the changes come amid continued upheaval in the digital journalism world as advertising dollars shrink and traffic from social media dries up.
Last week, G/O media shuttered female-forward publication Jezebel after failing to find a buyer and Vice Media announced another round of layoffs. This year has also seen BuzzFeed News shut down, major cuts at Barstool Sports, the closure of Dot LA, and widespread layoffs at Vox Media, which owns multiple publications including New York Magazine, The Verge, Curbed, The Cut, Eater, Vulture and The Strategist.
Insider’s editorial staff took to the picket lines in June after a series of layoffs and staff buyouts and disagreements over health insurance and other benefits. The contract reached two weeks later promised a minimum starting salary of $65,000 and a wide range of other benefits.
Peng pointed to a series of scoops the staff has broken over the years as proof of its journalistic mettle, and said the company is changing back to Business Insider because its focus on news for people “who are optimistic, driven, and forward-looking,” hasn’t changed.
“Our audience subscribes to a mentality where ambition doesn’t come at the expense of a sense of humor,” the new CEO wrote. “We help them discover the ideas and the people who are changing business, tech, and beyond.”
The publication did not publish a note from Blodget. But the 57-year-old former tech research analyst told The Wall Street Journal that the Insider, like other digital news outlets, grew its audience through social media, a model that is no longer sustainable.
“The way to survive and continue to delight your audience,” is to get readers to come directly to the site, Blodget said.
He will serve as board char of Insider, work with Axel Springer on its U.S. development and do some journalism, he told the Journal.
In addition to Insider and its research group Insider Intelligence, Axel Springer also owns Politico and Rolling Stone, along with a host of other international titles.