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Photo: Mic

Millennial-focused content site Mic has laid off most of its staffers amid a rumored acquisition by Bustle Digital Group, whose brands include Bustle and Elite Daily.

Why it matters: Mic has been struggling to survive in the wake of Facebook's 2017 algorithm change, which essentially stopped driving traffic to publishers.

  • What's in it for Mic? An exit. News of Mic's struggles have been widely documented over the past year. Mic CEO Chris Altchek confirmed acquisition interest to Axios in September.
  • What's in it for Bustle? It gains access to Mic's content management system and its engineering talent, which is tough to come by in New York City.

Mic laid off the majority of its editorial staff Thursday morning, without any notice, sources tell Axios. The layoffs were first reported by Recode and confirmed by Axios.

  • Recode reported Wednesday that Mic looked to sell after an expensive video deal with Facebook ended.
  • Mic publisher Cory Haik resigned Thursday, and sources tell Axios that she cleared out her desk on Wednesday.
  • Several sources tell Axios that editorial staffers were the primary group being cut, while sales and technology employees could remain.

Between the lines: Mic is Bustle's latest cheap acquisition of a struggling millennial-focused digital media brand.

  • In August it acquired Flavorpill, an online publisher and experiential brand focused on events, after previously acquiring fashion designer Rachel Zoe's "The Zoe Report." In 2017 it bought Elite Daily, which is outperforming its internal audience and revenue goals, says Bryan Goldberg, founder and CEO of Bustle Digital Group.
  • Goldberg plans to relaunch the media gossip blog Gawker in early 2019, two years after it was shut down.

Reports suggest that Mic is being sold for less than $5 million, which is an astonishingly low figure given that Mic had raised nearly $60 million from venture capitalists and media companies like Time Warner and Bertelsmann. Its most recent valuation was north of $100 million.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”