- Grindr LLC
- Grindr has reportedly laid off staffers at its LGBT publication INTO, saying the company will pivot to video.
- The decision follows numerous controversies at the publication, including a dispute between editorial staffers and Grindr’s CEO, who INTO reported made comments against gay marriage.
- Grindr’s pivot to video and its layoffs follow in the footsteps previous digital media companies that pursued the strategy such as Mic.
Grindr, the LGBT dating app, has reportedly laid off editorial staffers of its digital publication INTO on Tuesday, in what it’s describing as a pivot to video. The move follows a series of editorial controversies that included retracted articles and a conflict between editorial staff and Grindr executives.
“Grindr is not shutting down INTO,” a Grindr representative said over email. “INTO’s brand and the site will continue. We are shifting our focus to video content.”
In a statement, the company explains, “After a thoughtful and collaborative process, Grindr’s leadership decided to modify INTO’s content mix to rely more heavily on video. This decision was driven by the high user engagement and development we see through channels such as Twitter and YouTube.”
It’s not immediately clear how many staff from the publication remain, but a representative said a majority of the INTO video team survived the cuts. Former associate editor at the publication Mary Emily O’Hara appeared to dispute this account on Twitter, writing, “I see a lot of comments about Grindr closing down INTO in a ‘pivot to video’ and want to clarify for the record: INTO’s video staff was also let go today.”
I see a lot of comments about Grindr closing down INTO in a ‘pivot to video’ and want to clarify for the record: INTO’s video staff was also let go today.
— Mary Emily O'Hara (@MaryEmilyOHara) January 16, 2019
In an employee letter signed by the “INTO Team,” staffers say “the editorial and social teams” were let go. A Grindr representative simply said, “several INTO employees will be leaving the company.”
A former INTO staffer says that only INTO’s publisher and digital designer survived the cuts.
INTO has existed for 17 months, starting up in August 2017, but quickly made an impact on the starved LGBT media ecosystem.
A statement from employees touted the brand’s accomplishments. “We have been awarded with a GLAAD nomination and honored by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA); we were also given a special award from the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF). We told stories of transgender prisoners forced to endure nightmarish treatment behind bars, LGBTQ asylum seekers looking for hope and refuge in the United States, and drag queens fighting for space and community in small town Tennessee.”
But aside from the editorial staff’s victories, they also faced high-profile struggles in the last year. In November 2018, INTO staff published a piece calling out Grindr’s straight president for writing that he believed “marriage is a holy matrimony between a man and a woman.” The post initiated a messy back and forth between the company’s own president and its content arm. At least one employee, communications head Landon Rafe Zumwalt, left the company as a result.
In December 2018, the company received intense scrutiny for an opinion piece they published that criticized Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” video for being “anti-queer.” The piece was widely critiqued for being “a reach,” and was eventually retracted, with the company’s then-editor-in-chief Zach Stafford issuing an apology for publishing the piece.
Stafford left the company later that month to become editor-in-chief of the LGBT publication The Advocate.
The move follows in the footsteps of numerous media companies “pivoting to video” and laying off editorial staffers. In August 2017, Mic infamously made the same pivot and laid off 25 staffers based on the decision that appeared to be specifically tied to traffic from Facebook. In November 2018, the company laid nearly all of its editorial staff after Facebook canceled the company’s show on the platform.
Write to Benjamin Goggin at email@example.com.