Jezebel — the female-focused site that sprouted from the Gawker empire — was shuttered Thursday after an exhaustive attempt to sell the brand came up empty, parent company G/O Media said.
G/O CEO Jim Spanfeller blamed “economic headwinds rattling our business” for the decision to shut the site as part of a wider shakeup at the media company, which also publishes Deadspin, Gizmodo and The Onion.
“Unfortunately, our business model and the audiences we serve across our network did not align with Jezebel’s,” Spanfeller wrote to staffers. “And when that became clear, we undertook an expansive search for a new, perhaps better home that might ensure Jezebel a path forward.”
Nearly two dozen staffers, including the entire Jezebel team, were chopped.
G/O had tapped its deputy editorial director Lea Goldman to try to get a buyer for Jezebel, according to Spanfeller, who said the editor spoke to “over two dozen” potential suitors without any luck.
“It is a testament to Jezebel’s heritage and bonafides that so many players engaged us. Still, despite every effort, we could not find Jez a new home,” the CEO lamented.
A G/O rep told The Post the company “might still find a buyer, a partner, or enough advertiser support to bring it back fully.”
WGA East, the union that represents Jezebel, blasted Spanfeller for pulling the plug.
“We are devastated though hardly surprised at G/O Media and Jim Spanfeller’s inability to run our website and their cruel decision to shutter it,” the union said.
“The closure of Jezebel also underscores fundamental flaws in the ad-supported media model where concerns about ‘brand safety’ limit monetizing content about the biggest, most important stories of the day — stories that create huge traffic because people read and share them. A well-run company would have moved away from an advertising model, but instead they are shuttering the brand entirely because of their strategic and commercial ineptitude.”
According to Washington Post media reporter Will Sommer, Jezebel staffers have already been kicked off the company-wide Slack messaging service, as well as email.
Originally launche0d in 2007 by now-defunct Gawker Media, Jezebel — which carried the tagline “Sex. Celebrity. Politics.” — wound up under the direction of Spanfeller in 2019.
At the time, private equity firm Great Hill Partners acquired Gizmodo Media, previously part of Gawker Media, and The Onion from Spanish-language media giant Univision.
Univision bought the Gizmodo Media Group assets through a bankruptcy auction in 2016, in an effort to reach English-language consumers.