Mic.com, the millennial-focused digital news site, raised an eye-popping $60 million in venture funding since it launched in 2011, and as of 2017 had a valuation in the “mid hundreds of millions” of dollars.
On Thursday, Bustle Digital Group agreed to buy what’s left of the company for less than $5 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“We have acquired Mic and I am pleased to welcome them into the BDG family,” Bustle founder Bryan Goldberg said in a statement.
Bustle plans to reinvest in Mic’s editorial staff next year, the Journal reported, citing a “person familiar with the matter.”
“There has been a lot of news about Mic today,” Goldberg said. “They have navigated some tough waters in the last year, and today was an especially difficult one.”
The announcement came just hours after Mic announced it was laying off the majority of its editorial staff ahead of the sale.
The news was first revealed by Mic CEO and co-founder Chris Altchek in a staff meeting this morning. Among those leaving included the website’s publisher, Cory Haik, who also emailed the staff this morning to announce her departure.
“It is with great sadness that I write to you this morning to resign my position as Publisher,” she wrote. “Our business models are unsettled and the macro forces at play are all going through their own states of unrest.”
One of those macro forces was an overreliance on traffic from Facebook, and the social network’s decision to cancel Mic’s Facebook Watch program.
Reps for Bustle did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap, but reports yesterday suggested that any acquisition of the company would come with a significantly reduced staff.
In September, Altchek, categorically denied that anything was wrong. In a tweet, Altchek berated Columbia Journalism Review’s Matthew Ingram for suggesting it wasn’t.
Well, the news is out: Today is my last day @Mic. I'm so proud of what we've accomplished here, me over the past 2.5 years. If anyone is looking for a snarky political junkie and reporter, my personal email is firstname.lastname@example.org. And hire my amazing colleagues, too.
— Emily C. Singer (@CahnEmily) November 29, 2018
Surprise: I no longer work at Mic! Here’s my resume. https://t.co/MZE0NfTSuu
— ????????♂️avier Harding (@iamxavier) November 29, 2018
Me leaving the Mic newsroom today for the last time https://t.co/NH2UgmSp9M
— Brianna Provenzano (@bri_provenzano) November 29, 2018
After raising $60 million, growth stalled at the millennial-focused website, which suffered from many of the same problems that have plagued other media companies that were too reliant on social media traffic.
This is the latest in a string of bad news for Mic. In September, longtime reporter Jack Smith IV was forced out in the wake of a #MeToo scandal just weeks ago.
“Because of the multiple, disturbing allegations made in this story against Jack Smith, we have terminated our contract with him, effective immediately,” executive news director Kerry Lauerman said in a note shared to staff in September.
The accusations against Smith were reported by Jezebel — which you can read here.