May 7, 2024 - Business

Business Insider's global editor-in-chief to step down

Nicholas Carlson, Global Editor-in-chief, Insider, on Fourth Estate Stage, Unlocking new monetization models, during day two of Collision 2022 at Enercare Centre in Toronto, Canada

Nicholas Carlson. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile for Collision via Getty Images

Business Insider's global editor-in-chief Nicholas Carlson will step down this summer, he announced Tuesday morning in an internal memo obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: Carlson was an early employee of the nearly 17-year-old digital outlet. His departure comes amid external backlash over Business Insider's reporting and an investigation by its parent company Axel Springer.

Zoom in: Carlson said in Tuesday's memo that his planned exit is not motivated by the recent criticism.

  • "Every year I've been in this job we've published journalism that, though fair, has left very powerful people mad at us. That's a fact of journalism, and that's never going away," he wrote.
  • Carlson said in the memo that Business Insider CEO Barbara Peng will lead a search for his successor. Once that person is hired, he will stay on as editor-at-large and write for the publication. Carlson said his future endeavors could be starting another company or writing another book.
  • Semafor first reported that he plans to step down.

Between the lines: Carlson's exit comes after a messy fight between Business Insider and Axel Springer over the publication's handling of an investigation into Neri Oxman, the wife of billionaire investor Bill Ackman.

  • Axel Springer conducted an investigation into Business Insider's report and found no wrongdoing. But the investigation itself suggested to the publication's employees that its parent company did not trust its editorial leadership.

What they're saying: "Nicholas Carlson's leadership enabled Business Insider to become an award-winning newsroom that reaches hundreds of millions of readers and viewers monthly around the world, and we look forward to continuing our work with him as he transitions to Editor-at-Large," an Axel Springer spokesperson said in a statement.

  • "We're proud to see Business Insider's renewed focus on what it does best: deeply reported, unafraid coverage of business, tech, and innovation, and we are excited for CEO Barbara Peng to lead the search for Business Insider's next Editor in Chief," the spokesperson added.
  • Peng sent a separate memo to staff thanking Carlson for his leadership and noted the many awards the newsroom has won. "Nich is one of the most creative and innovative leaders in journalism," Peng wrote.

The big picture: Carlson has overseen major pivots within the company, including two rebrands, a shift to and back from subscriptions and, most recently, a major push into AI.

  • Some of those changes resulted in an uptick in union activity at the organization. The outlet formed a union in 2021 and secured its first contract in 2023 after a 13-day strike.
  • Carlson's decision comes as Business Insider reckons with a new strategic direction. Axel Springer acquired the publication in 2015 as its first major foray into the U.S. market. The outlet now is part of a much broader U.S. publishing portfolio, including Politico and Morning Brew.
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