Last week, the media industry had one of its worst weeks in 2019. Buzzfeed ($PRIVATE:BUZZFEED) announced it would lay off 15% of its team; Verizon Media ($VZ) announced cuts of 7%; and layoffs tore through Gannett ($GCI). All in, media layoffs totaled around 1,000 jobs in one week, with a specific focus on digital-first, new media companies.
But ahead of those layoffs, as we've seen time and again, were hiring slowdowns. Buzzfeed hiring slowed to a trickle, and Verizon Media (previously known as Oath, previously known as Aol, AKA Yahoo!) saw a massive hiring slowdown itself. Similar slowdowns have been found at both Vice and Vox Media — both of those companies have gone through rounds of layoffs themselves — but, so far, employees at those two companies are safe for now.
Meanwhile, hiring for content and media professionals is up at companies like Facebook and Apple as they look to grab larger slices of the content subscription and advertising pie.
Could this signal a migration from new media to Silicon Valley? It's possible, not necessarily probable, but it wouldn't be surprising. Here's what we found.
Hiring activity slumps in new media
As hundreds of writers, editors, and content creators wake up today to begin job searches anew, those in the media industry are certainly wondering if this is the end. After all, industry bloodletting often begets more bloodletting. So, as we nurse the wounds and figure out what's next for media, it's important to ask: who else in the new media industry is following a similar downtrend in hiring?
Two of the biggest players in new media, Vox Media ($PRIVATE:VOXMEDIA) and Vice Media ($PRIVATE:VICEMEDIA), have seen hiring slowdowns of their own.
While Vox Media appears to have picked up hiring, a large number of new positions listed on its careers site are in fact for temporary, contract, and freelance positions.
Vice Media was at one time given a private valuation of $5.7 billion. In 2016, co-founder Shan Smith gloated to The Wall Street Journal that Vice could one day be worth $50 billion.
These days, things are different at Vice: hiring is down, its social presence it stalling, and its staff size has been shrinking since last summer.
Hiring activity rises at Facebook, Apple
So is anyone hiring for media? Where will those 1,000 job-seekers go for the next step in their content-creating careers? There are, indeed, some very big companies hiring content creators and seasoned professionals who can navigate the digital media environment. Those companies are, of course Facebook ($FB) and Apple ($AAPL).
Facebook has long been making its way into the content game, first as a content aggregator, then as a content creator, and now as a content publisher. Despite its many false starts and curious doings, hiring at Facebook's media divisions has been on a steady rise since September 2016.
But make no mistake: Apple wants a bigger piece of the media pie, from video content to editorial and news. It's been slowly, but surely, opening up its hiring channels for media professionals, from straight editorial and news to content acquisitions and licensing professionals.
The slowdown in hiring at new media and the rise in hiring at Facebook and Apple aren't necessarily correlated. However, the timing of the two trends is evidence of a clear shift in investment when it come to who will be creating, aggregating, and paying for content in the future.