Mic Goes Bust(le).


In 2013, I interviewed Mic co-founder Jake Horowitz for a story about the news website (then known as PolicyMic) he and his college friend Chris Altchek had created for millennials. Back then, the site offered mostly social commentaries written by unpaid contributors and boasted 7.5 million unique visitors a month with 60,000 registered users.

"We want to be the New York Times for our generation. A place where 18-to-35-year-olds can read, write and discuss the news," Horowitz told me.

Over the years, I kept my eye on Mic. Not only because it was my job, but because I was genuinely interested in seeing how Horowitz and Altchek would do in news publishing. At first, things looked great. They raised millions of dollars from investors, and at one time, it was rumored to be worth $100 million. Their staff grew, and journalists from both the print and digital worlds eagerly joined the start-up and supported its mission. They won journalism awards, and managed to land an interview with President Barack Obama in 2015.

Then came the pivot--you know what I'm talking about. In 2017, dozens of publishers decided to "pivot to video" in order to chase after clicks, views and digital dollars. That meant a lot of people lost their jobs. At Mic, 25 employees were let go as part of its restructure to focus on visual journalism.

It was a beginning and an end for the media company.

As Facebook started to put less emphasis on content from publishers, Mic's traffic to its own site plunged to 5 million uniques from 17 million a year ago, Digiday reported.

Then, in September 2018, the first reports of Mic looking for a buyer started to surface. The Wall Street Journal reported the company was looking at an acquisition offer from another media company. The Columbia Journalism Review's Mathew Ingram learned from sources there were emergency board meetings to discuss a possible shutdown (something that Altchek denied in a tweet).

The truth finally came out in late November when Mic announced it was laying off more than 100 employees and selling the company to Bustle Digital Group for about $5 million. Bustle, a...

To continue reading

Request your trial