Apr 6, 2022 - Economy

Intercept parent First Look Media laying off 20 people

Illustration of a pair of scissors cutting a chat text bubble in half

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

First Look Media, the parent company to The Intercept, is laying off 20 people, according to a note to staff obtained by Axios and a source familiar with the situation.

Why it matters: In the note, the company’s CEO attributes the cuts to pandemic-related setbacks.

The big picture: In recent years, the Intercept in particular has tried to lean in to more donations from philanthropic donors and licensing deals, as memberships stagnated in the Biden era.

Catch up quick: First Look Media was created in 2013 by eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar.

  • It houses a nonprofit arm called First Look Institute, which includes The Intercept as well as Field of Vision, a documentary film unit, and Press Freedom Defense Fund, a free-press support group.
  • It also houses a for-profit arm that includes a content studio called Topic Studios and a for-profit streaming service called Topic. The for-profit arm was created as a mechanism to fund The Intercept, which is mostly backed by Omidyar and donations.

Details: In a note to staff, First Look Media CEO Michael Bloom said the cuts were happening “to ensure the long-term health of our organizations.”

  • “[W]e are re-calibrating our operations and unfortunately having to part ways with some of our beloved colleagues,” he wrote, acknowledging that many organizations were hit hard by the pandemic.
  • This is the first round of layoffs the company has done since the start of the pandemic, despite its impact on its business.
  • The cuts apply to both First Look Entertainment and First Look Institute, according to a source familiar with the plans. Staffers at The Intercept tweeted about layoffs Wednesday.
  • The company isn’t changing any of its business units, it’s just reducing its workforce to get it into a healthy place financially as it prepares for the future, per a source familiar with the situation.
  • “As First Look enters this next phase, we will continue to advance the goals that are critical to our causes, our organizations, and to the rapidly changing world,” a spokesperson said.
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