Popular Science lays off over half its staff as owner Recurrent Ventures shifts resources toward video and ‘new formats’

  • Recurrent Ventures is laying off staff across several of its publications.
  • Popular Science is losing more than half of its team, according to a source familiar with the matter.
  • “Recurrent is adapting to the evolving landscape of its audience,” a spokesperson told Insider.

A company spokesperson confirmed to Insider that Recurrent Ventures, a private-equity-backed digital media company, is laying off employees across several editorial brands.

Popular Science, Field & Stream, The Drive, and Dwell are among the publications that cover science, outdoor living, and automobiles.

The layoffs come just a few weeks after the company replaced its CEO, removing Alex Vargas and elevating cofounder Andrew Perlman to the position.

Perlman stated in a late October memo to employees that was obtained by Insider that video would be one of his priorities going forward as the company sought to eliminate “unnecessary complexities” and “drive efficiency.”

Popular Science, a legacy science and technology magazine among Recurrent’s brands, was heavily impacted by Monday’s cuts. Axios was the first to report on the layoffs.

A source familiar with the situation told Insider that around 13 full-time staffers at Popular Science were let go, accounting for more than half of the magazine’s staff. The layoffs come as the publication plans to shift its resources away from long-form magazine content and toward shorter, daily news and new formats such as video, according to the publication.

“As consumer trends shift, it’s critical that we prioritize investment in new formats,” a Recurrent representative told Insider. “We believe the content strategy must expand beyond the digital magazine product.” Content that naturally aligns with PopSci’s mission will be produced by a combination of its news team, commerce, video, and other initiatives.”

According to a source familiar with the situation, Monday’s layoffs affected other brands in Recurrent’s portfolio, including The Drive and Domino, as well as support teams throughout the organization.

“Like most media companies, Recurrent is adapting to the evolving landscape of its audience,” said a spokesperson for the company. “Whether it’s due to shifting patterns in social referrals or advertising budgets, it’s clear that change is a consistent theme.”

“Unfortunately, this resulted in a reduction of headcount within several brands and operational teams,” the spokesperson added. While these decisions are difficult, they are necessary to ensure our profitability and ability to make critical investments for our growth.”

The company had previously reduced staffing on its operations, revenue, and editorial teams in September 2022, just months after shuttering men’s web publication MEL magazine. Meanwhile, other media companies such as Vice, Conde Nast, and G/O Media have cut staff in recent months.

Read the full memo that Perlman sent to employees in late October, just before the layoffs, outlining his plans for the company as its new CEO:

Hi All,

Today I’m writing to provide an important organizational update. Please read the following announcement carefully and contact your GM or Shared Service team lead if you have any questions.

The Board and Alex Vargas mutually agreed to part ways earlier this week. Since joining as COO in early 2022 and later taking over as CEO last fall, Alex has made significant contributions to this company. We are extremely grateful for the progress he has enabled in improving the organizational structure, increasing the level of our direct sales initiatives, expanding Recurrent’s efforts in evergreen content, and addressing our technical challenges with a comprehensive roadmap. He will help with the transition while I take over as CEO, which takes effect immediately.

As Recurrent enters its third year, we are at a critical juncture in its development. As a member of this organization since its inception and a member of the Board since its inception, I am acutely aware of the significant changes that have occurred in recent years. Since our inception, I have held a variety of positions, ranging from CEO of The Drive (our first acquisition) to M&A and all Corporate Development, each with a distinct focus on areas critical to our growth. Recurrent has the necessary foundation for success, which begins with our great brands.

The original vision was of powerful brands that had yet to realize their full potential, leveraging audiences to explore new revenue and distribution channels alongside Commerce. I recognize that we must do more to ensure that our brands thrive across all platforms. To realize that vision, we are determined to remove unnecessary complexities, drive efficiency, and return to our core principles. I’m working hard to change that as soon as possible; one area where you’ll notice my focus is expanding our video efforts across the portfolio.

I’m dedicated to the success of everyone involved: individuals, brands, and the company. I understand there has been a lot of change in the last few years, but I also believe we can win in all of the areas in which Recurrent operates. There is still work to be done, but there is a lot of momentum to build on.

In the coming weeks, I’ll talk more about our long-term strategy. I’ve spent much of this week meeting with GMs and Shared Service leads to ensure a smooth transition, and I’ll be meeting with many of you individually soon.

My enthusiasm for these brands and our company has never wavered, and I am looking forward to working more closely with you all in the future.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply