On Friday morning, SB Nation, The Verge, Eater, Polygon and New York magazineAlong with Group Nine brands such as The Dodo, PopSugar and Thrillist, announced would lay off seven percent of its workforce, approximately 130 workers.
The dust has yet to settle on this round of layoffs, but it’s already clear that the layoffs have hit SB Nation and its affiliated team sites hard. An unknown number of employees have been laid off at SB Nation’s flagship site (there aren’t many left after the Vox Media layoffs). destroyed SB Nation in 2020). In addition, multiple sources told Defector that all but six SB Nation hockey sites will no longer be supported by Vox Media, and most, if not all, of the MLS team sites will be cut. Sources say Vox Media has also canceled nearly all SB Nation podcasts. (Update: Vox Media spokeswoman Lauren Starke sent Defector an email: “Although we have some contracts that expire on February 28th, there are still MLS sites and podcasts that will continue to be supported by SB Nation after that date.” He did not say how much, and did not respond to a question about how many SB Nation employees were laid off.)
The employees who manage the SB Nation team sites are mostly independent contractors, meaning they only make small stipends that could lead to full-time employment. Many of them have been building fan communities for years for little or no money.
Steph Driver was the only full-time SB Nation hockey employee until she was fired today. The driver controlled all of SB Nation’s 34 hockey team sites, one for each NHL team, as well as one for women’s hockey and one for college hockey. Driver said he and other team-site employees self-reported that six hockey rinks remained, leaving their managers feeling conflicted about keeping their jobs after many of their colleagues were laid off.
“We feel like we’ve been punched in the gut today,” the driver told Defector.
Given how little they spend on Vox Media, firing the team site is hard for staff to stomach. The value of the merged hockey sites was pennies compared to the company’s billion-dollar valuation.
“Smaller sites were making between $200 and $500 a month to spread between a site manager and some contributors, and at the higher end of the scale our larger sites would have anywhere between $2,500 and $4,000 to spend on contributors,” Driver said.
“It’s incredible what we’ve been able to do with a little support and resources, just guts and a real passion for hockey,” said Driver, who said he’s going to reset the weekend before thinking about what’s next, though he has some contingency plans. steps. Other SB Nation employees are similarly trying to figure out what’s next for the communities they’ve built.
A A post on Japers’ Rink, SB Nation’s Washington Capital team site, reads:
So far, what we’ve been told is that the site will no longer be operated or financially supported by Vox Media, and that our contract with the company will expire at the end of February.
More information is forthcoming regarding the future of this site and all other sites affected by this news, and we are currently exploring our options as we await further updates. Nothing is finalized and we have no plans to close Japers Rink completely. Our priority right now is to continue to cover the team and sport we love and continue to maintain the great community we’ve built here over the years.
A Writing on SB Nation’s New York Rangers team site Blueshirt Banter, SB Nation’s team site director John Ness has left the sites in the dark about what’s next.
I don’t have a ton of information right now, other than John Ness’ blanket email to dozens of site managers across multiple leagues, but it looks like Blueshirt Banter will no longer be monetized by SB Nation as of March.
I’m not sure what this means for the future of this amazing website and community, but it’s probably not good.
I’ll probably have more to say in the coming days as more information is released (John Ness has yet to respond to my email to clarify the current situation), but for now I want to thank you all. for the love, support and consumption of this website and the people who have kept it humming for over a decade and by almost every metric have made this one of the best websites in the SBN Hockey Family.
This is a sad code for a network of sports websites and the exploited workers who run them. As I reported in 2017, SB Nation, which went on to launch Vox Media, was built around getting people to fill out hundreds of websites, in exchange for investment money and selling ads. This exploitative business model eventually became the basis for numerous federal class action lawsuits settled in 2020 for millions of dollars.