News start-up The Messenger will lay off nearly two dozen employees this week across all departments in an effort to cut costs amid second-round fundraising, TheWrap has learned.
The newsroom, which covers politics, culture, breaking news, business, sports, and tech, makes up the bulk of the media company, which employs approximately 300 individuals. It was launched in May 2023 by CEO and founder Jimmy Finkelstein, former owner of The Hill.
News of the layoffs came Tuesday after president Richard Beckman announced his exit from the company on LinkedIn.
“Back in November, I had advised Jimmy Finkelstein of my decision to step down based on short-term health issues I have endured this past year and will be subsequently retiring from the corporate world at the end of this month,” Beckman wrote. “I will be helping with the transition this next few weeks then watching and cheering from the sidelines as my colleagues continue to pursue, with great passion, their noble mission to bring balance back to the newsroom.”
The company’s launch raised $50 million from various investors including The Stagwell Group, a holding company based in D.C. led by Mark Penn and former Hearst CEO Victor Ganzi, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation.
Other investors included Loews CEO James Tisch, Apollo cofounder Josh Harris and Interactive Brokers founder and chair Thomas Peterffy. The Messenger also counts the Abu Dhabi-based International Media Investments as a minority investor since acquiring Grid News in March.
The layoffs come approximately two months after reports of editorial staffers seeking unionization due to fear that the site was “out of money.”
At the time of its launch, Finkelstein’s stated goal of hiring 550 journalists stationed in New York, Washington and Los Angeles within a year was widely shrugged off as “delusional” by industry insiders who noted among other things that the site would be free and supported only by advertising.
The New York Times first reported the news.