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Mic Lays Off Most of Its Employees as Millennial-Focused News Startup Seeks Buyer

Mic, a New York-based digital news startup aiming at millennials, has cut the majority of its staff and is reportedly in talks to sell the company’s assets.

A rep for Mic confirmed the layoffs but declined to specify how many employees were pink-slipped. The company is in talks to sell to what remains of Mic to Bustle Digital Group, according to a source, confirming a Recode report. [UPDATE: Bustle said Thursday afternoon that it has acquired Mic.] Recode also first reported the Mic layoffs Thursday.

Mic last year had reported having about 165 employees.

Among the layoffs, Mic publisher Cory Haik, a former Washington Post exec who joined the company in 2016 to lead editorial, audience and platform teams, resigned her post Thursday. “Our business models are unsettled, and the macro forces at play are all going through their own states of unrest,” she wrote in a memo to Mic staffers.

Word that Mic was looking to sell itself surfaced in September, when the Wall Street Journal reported Mic had considered a buyout bid from another media company.

A rep for Bustle Digital Group did not respond to a request for comment about Mic. Bustle, whose sites include Bustle, Romper, Elite Daily, and the Zoe Report, is headed by founder/CEO Bryan Goldberg. He was the winning bidder for the remaining assets of Gawker Media in July and recently hired Amanda Hale as the new publisher of Gawker, with plans to relaunch it in 2019.

Mic raised around $60 million in funding total, including a $21 million round last year that included an investment from WarnerMedia Investments (formerly Time Warner Investments). Other backers include Lightspeed Venture Partners, WPP, Kyu Collective, Axel Springer, Advancit Capital and Lerer Hippeau Ventures.

Mic was founded in 2011 by CEO Chris Altchek and editor-at-large Jake Horowitz, originally called PolicyMic. The company defines its mission as “to reveal and amplify stories that reshape the world,” for a young audience that “crave[s] journalism to give meaning to the world at a moment of great transformation.”

This past July, Mic launched “Mic Dispatch,” a twice-weekly newsmagazine show profiling “the underrepresented, the problem-solvers and the provocateurs.” That was part of the news programming Facebook funded to show it was commitment to promoting journalism on its platform. Facebook recently decided to not renew Mic Dispatch, adding to Mic’s financial woes. Mic had received about $2 million in funding from Facebook for the six-month run of the show, according to a source familiar with the deal.

The company has been part of a cluster of digital-media players in New York catering to news-minded millennials like Vice Media, BuzzFeed and Refinery29 — each of which have also faced economic headwinds.

In the spring of 2017, Mic hired Jonathan Carson, former chief revenue officer of Vevo and CEO of Nielsen Digital, as its first president. Carson left the company after a year, in what Altchek said at the time was a mutual decision.

The headquarters of Mic (as in “microphone”) are in New York, and the company has operated offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto, Kiev, Stockholm and Berlin.

Laid-off Mic employees, including executive news director Kerry Lauerman, tweeted about the cuts Thursday:

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