There was a time — a time not too long ago — when new media standouts Vice Media ($PRIVATE:VICEMEDIA), Buzzfeed ($PRIVATE:BUZZFEED), and Vox Media ($PRIVATE:VOXMEDIA) were all in a rapid state of growth. It was an exciting time: they were all launching new properties, poaching talent from media stalwarts, and boasting huge revenue outlooks. And one thing was consistent across all three properties: they were hiring a lot of people.
Today, while the same companies continue to do well, they've spent the last year or so in what could be called a correction period. All saw some form of layoffs and property shutdowns across editorial, video, and broadcast. While they continue to pull in impressive traffic numbers and put out large revenue reports, they're all in the middle of, or emerging from, periods of slowdown when it comes to hiring.
Vice Media, once an edgy hipster magazine from Brooklyn, has turned into one of the largest new media outlets in the world. A mix of fourteen properties, a record label, film studio, and cable channel, the company was once hiring more than 100 people in 2016. Today, Vice has less than 50 openings.
On LinkedIn, people who list Vice as an employer saw a significant drop over the summer, from a a high of 3,450 employees to 3,400 earlier this month. That number has since risen to around 3,420, a possible sign that the company is once again picking up employment.
Buzzfeed famously transitioned from a bastion of clickbait to legit news operation as it hired award-winning journalists from traditional media, broke massive news stories, and expanded its operations past simple digital publishing. Since 2017, however, it's seen hiring activity steadily shrink from a high of 183 openings in April 2017 to just 55 in the fall of 2018. Hiring today sits at 68 open positions - a far cry from its salad days.
That said, those who list Buzzfeed as their employer on LinkedIn saw steady growth, a sign that despite drops in openings over time, the company is still bringing people on. However, growth has plateaued since early 2018 with few signs of a return to 2016-2017 growth.
Vox Media stunned the media world last winter when it laid off 5% of its workers. This came after years of expansion and rapid hiring. In November, 2017, Vox listed 107 openings on its careers site. Earlier this month, that same site listed just 43 openings.
When looking at LinkedIn profile metrics, those who claim Vox as an employer plateaued in early 2018, echoing a similar trend seen at Buzzfeed above. Vox's LinkedIn employee count appears to be on a downward slope as of last summer, from a June, 2018 high of 711 employees to 691 today.
Is this a new media slowdown?
Numbers rarely lie: it's clear that all three new media giants have slowed down their hiring activities, and those who list the companies as their employers have slowed or decreaed on LinkedIn. Given that, it's fair to say that new media is seeing a hiring slowdown across three companies that spent two years rapidly growing.
But are the companies themselves slowing down? Hardly. All three continue to invest in new opportunities, look for new revenue streams, and develop new content franchises. It's likely we're just seeing the first time that all three companies are taking a moment to ponder who they really need to get the job done.