Nov 15, 2022 - Economy

Protocol, the tech-focused website from Politico, to shutter

Illustration of a push broom sweeping away a pile of cursors.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Politico plans to wind down Protocol, the tech news website it launched in 2020, by the end of the year, according to a company-wide memo obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: It represents a major shift from earlier this year, when Protocol's president told Axios that the outlet was in growth mode and planned to add 25 new positions to support new products, such as a climate and policy-focused tech newsletters.

Details: Around 60 staffers will be impacted by the changes, with dozens expected to be laid off, according to CNN, which first reported the news.

  • In the note to staff, Politico CEO Goli Sheikholeslami said Politico's management explored several options about what to do with Protocol, including "continuing to operate Protocol as a standalone company or potentially integrating it into other brands in the Axel Springer portfolio."
  • But the company ultimately decided "it did not make sense to continue operating Protocol as a standalone brand and business within PMG and have started the process of winding it down by the end of the year."
  • Looking ahead, Sheikholeslami said it plans to introduce Protocol’s audience and advertising partners to Politico's technology products and coverage.
  • Politico did not immediately respond to an Axios' request for comment.

Flashback: Protocol got off to a rocky start, launching just weeks before the pandemic-driven shutdowns in 2020.

  • The company laid off 13 people, roughly one-third of its staff at the time.
  • The site was launched by former Politico owner Robert Allbritton as a standalone entity outside of Politico, but was acquired by German publishing giant Axel Springer alongside its sister publications Politico and Politico Europe last year.

What to watch: In addition to the news about Protocol, Sheikholeslami announced a new joint executive team that will manage both Politico's U.S. and European operations.

  • As a part of the restructuring, Claire Boussagol, the CEO of Politico Europe, will depart, Sheikholeslami added. Boussagol joined Politico Europe in 2021.
Go deeper