[Ed. – Woe is us.]
The business of online news has never been forgiving. But in recent weeks, what had been a simmering worry among publishers has turned into borderline panic.
This month, Mashable, a site that had just raised $15 million, laid off 30 people. Salon, a web publishing pioneer, announced a new round of budget cuts and layoffs. And BuzzFeed, which has been held up as a success story, was forced to bat back questions about its revenue — but not before founders at other start-up media companies received calls from anxious investors.
“It is a very dangerous time,” said Om Malik, an investor at True Ventures whose tech news site, Gigaom, collapsed suddenly in 2015, portending the flurry of contractions.
The trouble, the publishers say, is twofold. The web advertising business, always unpredictable, became more treacherous. And website traffic plateaued at many large sites, in some cases falling — a new and troubling experience after a decade of exuberant growth.