Bustle Digital Group lays off staff of The Outline as part of broader cuts

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Bustle Digital Group, owner of a portfolio of digital media properties including Bustle itself, says it laid off two dozen staffers today. That includes eliminating the entire staff of The Outline, a culture site that it acquired a year ago.

In a statement, a BDG spokesperson said the company will continue to host The Outline’s archives, and that founder Josh Topolsky will be “exploring alternative paths forward” for its future.

“The unprecedented impact of COVID-19 has forced us to make some tough business decisions,” a BDG spokesperson said. “Most staff will be taking temporary tiered salary reductions and unfortunately, we have eliminated two dozen positions across the company.”

Topolsky (former editor in chief of Engadget and founder of The Verge) founded The Outline in 2016. The site shifted its publication model over time, laying off its writers while maintaining an editorial team that continued to publish freelance content. It was then acquired by Bustle, and Topolsky went on to launch the tech news site Input under the BDG umbrella.

“[I] am tremendously proud of all the weird, funny, interesting, and brilliant stuff we put into the universe, and all the talented writers we were able to publish,” The Outline’s executive editor Leah Finnegan tweeted this morning. “[T]hank you for reading, and [I] hope you will remember what we did fondly.”

BDG, meanwhile, was founded by CEO Bryan Goldberg (pictured above) in 2013. In the past few years, it hasn’t just acquired The Outline, but also Elite Daily, Mic, Nylon and Gawker. In many cases, the deals came after layoffs or other turmoil.

We’re entering what’s likely to be a brutal few months (or longer) for the media industry, as the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic pullback in advertising. The layoffs have already started, while BuzzFeed is trying to avoid them by cutting employee pay.