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The Messenger Shutting Down After Less Than a Year

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The Messenger is shutting its doors eight months after the digital news site launched, with the startup having burned through $50 million in funding.

The New York Times broke the news of The Messenger’s shutdown Wednesday, initially citing anonymous sources. The report caught staffers of the news outfit — which promised readers “a new kind of news” — by surprise.

“All I know is that if I were to launch a media start-up I’d be sure to rent an entire floor of a downtown Manhattan skyscraper that was 9/10ths empty all day … and then fail to tell my employees they were laid off until they read about it in the New York Times,” Jordan Hoffman, a senior writer and critic at The Messenger, wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

The Messenger launched in May 2023 and had hired some 300 employees. It was founded by Jimmy Finkelstein (pictured above), a media and publishing industry veteran who was previously a former part owner of the Hollywood Reporter (now owned by PMC, parent of Variety) and The Hill (sold to Nexstar Media Group in 2021).

Finkelstein on Wednesday confirmed The Messenger’s shutdown in a memo to staff that was viewed by Variety. “Over the past few weeks, literally until earlier today, we exhausted every option available and have endeavored to raise sufficient capital to reach profitability,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, we have been unable to do so, which is why we haven’t share the news with you until now. This is truly the last thing I wanted, and I am deeply sorry.”

In the memo, Finkelstein cited economic headwinds that “have left many media companies fighting for survival.” He wrote, “Unfortunately, as a new company, we encountered even more significant challenges than others and could not survive those headwinds.”

Read Finkelstein’s memo:

I am personally devastated to share that we have made the painfully hard decision to shut down The Messenger, effective immediately. Over the past few weeks, literally until earlier today, we exhausted every option available and have endeavored to raise sufficient capital to reach profitability. Unfortunately, we have been unable to do so, which is why we haven’t shared the news with you until now. This is truly the last thing I wanted, and I am deeply sorry.

The Messenger started with an incredibly important mission – to deliver balanced and accurate journalism at a time when Americans’ trust in media is at a record low – and I am proud of what we achieved. Our editorial team created and delivered an outstanding product that generated unprecedented traffic in seven months. ComScore recently announced that we reached 88 million page views in November. Under the right circumstances, I know we could have made a significant difference in today’s fragmented media landscape and country.

The industry has faced extraordinary challenges this past year. The economic headwinds have left many media companies fighting for survival. Unfortunately, as a new company, we encountered even more significant challenges than others and could not survive those headwinds. I am grateful to you and the partners who believed in our mission and came on board over the past seven months, but the reality is that we needed more capital to move forward successfully.



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