CRUMBLING

Univision Forces Out Gizmodo CEO as Company Weighs Deep Cuts

Gizmodo Media Group CEO Raju Narisetti is leaving the former Gawker Media sites as parent company Univision gets more involved and considers more cuts.

The Washington Post/Getty

Gizmodo Media Group’s top executive is exiting the company—a sign that parent Univision plans to get more directly involved with its flagship digital media property as it weighs deep cuts.

The Daily Beast has learned that GMG CEO Raju Narisetti has been pushed out, amid a larger business review following the company’s decision to scuttle its planned initial public offering earlier this year.

One person familiar with the situation disputed to The Daily Beast that Narisetti was pushed out, saying the CEO sensed the forthcoming changes in the company, and approached Univision in January about leaving.

In a lengthy email to staff shared later on Monday, Narisetti said with Univision’s “reluctant blessing,” he was leaving the company at the end of April. The outgoing CEO said the move “makes structural sense for GMG.”

“If you can, amid all the relentless change that is now the new normal for our business, remain focused on our growing audiences, and keep creating meaningful differences than better sameness, with all your journalism,” Narisetti wrote.

Narisetti was tapped in September 2016 to lead the former Gawker Media properties after they were sold to Univision and rebranded as Gizmodo Media Group. The acquisition was one part of Univision’s investment in digital media: The company also acquired The Onion, The A.V. Club, and ClickHole in 2016.

Narisetti’s departure is the latest in a series of top-level changes that signal Univision is likely to become deeply involved in GMG operations.

The Wall Street Journal reported in March that, following the failed IPO, the company sought new board leadership, and it hired an outside consulting firm to evaluate its business. That firm, Boston Consulting Group, proposed cutting the budget of Fusion Media Group—the umbrella company that includes GMG and The Onion—by a whopping 35 percent.

Though the Journal reported that much of the cuts could come from “streamlining operations at the Fusion cable channel,” many employees are privately bracing for staffing cuts across the network.

One GMG employee, who spoke with The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity, said the consultants have privately said they will make decisions about layoffs by the end of the month.

Narisetti was seen as a close internal ally of chief content officer Isaac Lee, who multiple sources say has been increasingly isolated by the recent moves.

Both he and Lee were omitted from an all-company email sent in March regarding the company’s planned leadership restructuring. Fusion Media Group president Felipe Holguin and Fusion cable network president Daniel Eilemberg, both seen as Lee allies, were pushed out of the company in recent weeks.

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Last month, the company installed senior vice president Sameer Deen, the head of Univision.com and a former executive at Scripps, to oversee all Univision digital, effectively hopping over Narisetti.

As GMG CEO, Narisetti oversaw an expansion of the newsroom over the past year, at a time when revenue and traffic to some of the Gizmodo sites spiked. Though he had a somewhat tumultuous relationship with parts of the newsroom, Narisetti has been seen by some staff as a bulwark against Univision’s interference.

The company has acknowledged to staff that a change is underway with top leadership.

“A transformation at UCI is underway and we are making changes across the entire portfolio to ensure our company is well positioned to grow and adapt in this very competitive media and technology market,” chief human resources officer Margaret Lazo wrote in a memo to staff in March.

Gizmodo declined to provide comment to The Daily Beast.