Grindr laid off its entire editorial and social team for its LGBT news service INTO on Tuesday, explaining in a statement that the website was looking to move away from writing and focus more on video content.
“As with any growing business, we have to continually evaluate what is best for Grindr. After a thoughtful and collaborative process, Grindr’s leadership decided to modify INTO’s content mix to rely more heavily on video,” the company said in a statement to TheWrap.
“This decision was driven by the high user engagement and development we see through channels such as Twitter and YouTube. With this strategic shift in focus, several INTO employees will be leaving the company. This was a difficult decision and one that we do not take lightly. We want to thank these colleagues for all of their contributions to Grindr and our community.”
“Staff remains at INTO as part of the shift to video,” a spokesperson added.
It is still unclear what staff Grindr has kept on board. A separate statement from INTO editors Tuesday evening painted a much more dire picture. Published in full by The Advocate — which first broke the story — staff at INTO said both editorial and social had been completely gutted.
“The team at Into was saddened to learn this morning that as of Jan. 15, we will no longer be with Grindr. The company will be refocusing its efforts on video and as such, the editorial and social teams were let go this morning,” it read. “We feel that Into’s closure is a tremendous loss for LGBTQ media, journalism, and the world.”
INTO’s former editor-in-chief, Zach Stafford, left the publication a few weeks ago to assume editorial leadership of The Advocate. The decision by Grindr caps a nearly two-year-old experiment for the gay dating app to try their hand at running a news website.
The move to video shows that despite high profile failures like Mic, Mashable and Vocativ, publishers have not completely abandoned the strategy of focusing on video content through distribution on social media.
In it’s brief existence, INTO did manage to do its fair share of enterprise reporting, most recently sending embeds into the migrant caravan in Mexico. In recent months, however, the site had faced scandal. In December, the president of Grindr, Scott Chen was busted by INTO for posting on Facebook that he didn’t believe in same-sex marriage.
“There are people who believe that marriage is a holy matrimony between a man and a woman. I agree but that’s none of our business,” Chen said.
That same month the website and an INTO contributor also came under sustained criticism for a piece accusing Ariana Grande’s new music video “thank u, next” of being “anti-queer.” The writer of the story was forced to remove her byline after she received death threats and was ultimately dropped as a contributor entirely after the website revealed unspecified “allegations” were made against her.