The Messenger Burned Through $38 Million in 2023, Took in Just $3 Million

The company says it received another $10 million in funding amid ongoing reports of dire financial conditions

Jimmy Finklestein attends the Hollywood Reporter's 2016 35 Most Powerful People in Media in New York City
Jimmy Finkelstein attends the Hollywood Reporter's 2016 35 Most Powerful People in Media in New York City (Credit: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)

The Messenger generated just $3 million in revenue in 2023, a far cry from the goals set by the digital news outlet’s executives when it launched in May 2023.

The New York Times reported Friday that “a major turn in fortune” is needed for The Messenger, the news start-up founded with the goal of bringing “balance” back to news, to pull in its proposed goal of $100 million in 2024.

The outlet was launched with lofty goals, including a target of drawing 100 million monthly viewers. Data from analytics company Comscore shows The Messenger had 11 million total unique visitors in October 2023.

The Messenger told potential investors that it attracted 24 million visitors in December, which was up 24% from November, The Times said.

Founded by Jimmy Finkelstein, former owner of the Washington-based The Hill, The Messenger ended the year with just $1.8 million cash on hand, The Times reported, citing two people with knowledge of the company’s financial results. The outlet was founded with a $50 million bankroll, and it burned through more than $38 million in its first months, the report said.

The operating data was revealed as the company this week moved to lay off about two dozen of the roughly 300 staffers it hired last year, and amid reports that Finkelstein is searching for additional backing, including entertaining proposals from conservative media executives at a meeting at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida on Wednesday.

The valuation put on the company at that meeting was $60 million, Axios reported, with a proposal aired for an infusion of $30 million in exchange for a 51% stake in The Messenger.

Messenger spokeswoman Kimberly Bernhardt downplayed the suggestion that the company faces “dire” financials, telling The Times that the site booked as much revenue in January as it did all of last year and has raised more than $10 million in its latest funding round.

That squares with comments given to TheWrap on Wednesday that the outlet had secured additional investment, and that “the notion of us discussing closure is beyond absurd.”

Bernhardt did not immediately respond to a request for additional information Friday morning.

The financial developments come as the company’s president, Richard Beckman, announced on LinkedIn he will retire and leave the company at the end of the month in part due to issues regarding personal health.

In an internal memo on Wednesday described by The Times, Finkelstein told staffers the decision to lay off employees was “tough.”

“I understand this is hard, and I am genuinely sorry for those impacted,” he wrote.

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