First Look Media Scraps ‘Racket’ Launch, Slashes 9 Staffers Hired by Ex-Chief Matt Taibbi

Pierre Omidyar’s company scraps what would have been Taibbi’s “Racket,” lays off 9; Omidyar doesn’t show up for firings

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Nine employees from First Look Media will be looking for new jobs, after CEO Pierre Omidyar laid off the entire team of what was supposed to be Matt Taibbi’s digital site “Racket” on Tuesday, an insider in the company told TheWrap. Omidyar was not present for the layoffs.

The company posted a memo about the layoffs on its website Tuesday:

Since Matt Taibbi’s departure, we’ve been working with the team he hired to consider various options for launching a project without him. After multiple explorations, we’ve decided not to pursue the project. Unfortunately, this means that the team Matt hired will be let go.

Though their tenure was brief, we appreciate the passion and energy each member of the team brought to the workplace, not to mention their hard work on behalf of Matt’s original project. We wish them all the best.

Former Salon writer Alex Pareene — who was hired as Taibbi’s deputy and executive editor — seems to be taking his job loss in stride.

Senior writer Elle Reeve has turned to the bottle (apparently with the rest of her colleagues)

And former editor-in-chief Matt Taibbi, whose nasty split from the company apparently made First Look decide “Racket” could not go on, sent his sincere apologies.

Taibbi quit First Look Media last month after just eight months on the job. As TheWrap reported, Taibbi and CEO Pierre Omidyar didn’t see eye to eye on everything from seating charts in the company’s Fifth Avenue office, to who and when the company could hire. Other media reports suggest a female staffer filed a complaint to management about Taibbi, claiming he was verbally abusive to her; a claim Taibbi denied.

Taibbi took a leave of absence for several weeks before bolting officially, with the final straw coming when Omidyar tried to strip him of his management duties.

First Look also lost its other digital magazine’s top editor recently, as “The Intercept” editor-in-chief John Cook bolted after eight months on the job to return to Gawker.

First Look Media has no yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment on why it decided against going forward with “Racket.”