When news broke yesterday that Sports Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Stone was leaving the position, it was clear that more changes were coming. We didn’t know how soon or how severe.
Now, we have some idea: very soon, and potentially very severe. Layoffs could start today, with reports from both the Wall Street Journal and Deadspin differing slightly , on the potential severity, although the range of outcomes is bad regardless.
The Wall Street Journal reported last night that more than 40 positions could be eliminated:
TheMaven Inc., which earlier this year licensed the rights to Sports Illustrated’s print and digital publications, is planning to eliminate more than 40 positions at the sports media bible as part of a broader overhaul, according to people familiar with the matter.
The employees are expected to receive notice this week that their jobs are being cut, according to the people. Some of the notifications will be delivered as soon as Thursday, they said.
The total number of employees at Sports Illustrated couldn’t be learned.
TheMaven is planning to hire as many as 200 contract workers in coming months to cover sports, one of the people said.
At Deadspin, Barry Petchesky wrote today that the cuts could include up to 50% of staff, and on top of that, it sounds like SI’s new overlord company is handling the situation in predictably bullshit fashion:
Late Wednesday night, SI staffers received emails telling them to report to a “transition meeting” on Thursday. Staffers compared the emails and quickly realized that there are two separate meetings, at different times, and they fear that one of the groups (“Thanos-like”) will be given pink slips, with the other told it is safe.
One source within the company says the number being bandied about is 50 percent of full-time staff. The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the impending layoffs, says “more than 40 positions” will be eliminated, and replaced by contractors working for TheMaven, a startup headed by a pair of extremely questionable bros, which in June brokered a deal to license Sports Illustrated from new owners Authentic Brands Group. TheMaven’s job listings already contain a number of SI positions, including “Expert Writer” and “Sport Editor,” and SI employees have noticed in recent days that multiple TheMaven contributors have started listing Sports Illustrated in their LinkedIn and Twitter profiles.
The job listings section is especially cruel; advertising for positions before you even bother to tell current employees they’re gone is inexcusable. This is shitty news, and given the new direction SI is taking, we’re likely to continue to get more of it for the foreseeable future.
According to Deadspin, the announced transition meetings were canceled minutes before their scheduled start time. Not because of any change in strategy or direction, though. Instead, it’s because there’s a chance the employees about to be laid off don’t technically work for the new owners yet:
According to sources, the delay has something to do with the fact that the sale agreement that is ultimately supposed to transfer ownership of Sports Illustrated from Meredith to Authentic Brand Groups, which has licensed TheMaven to run the publication, isn’t technically finished yet. We’re told that Sports Illustrated brass is asking employees for their patience.
Not waiting to inform employees of layoffs until after you’ve posted their jobs as open online is one thing. Not waiting to actually own the company before you lay them off is somehow even worse.