Protocol, Politico’s tech-focused website, to shut down


Illustration: Aida Amer/Axios

Politico plans to take down Protocol, the tech news website it launched in 2020, by the end of the year, according to a company-wide memo obtained by Axios.

why is it important: This represents a major change from earlier this year, when the president of Protocol told Axios that the outlet was in growth mode and planned to add 25 new positions to support new products, such as as climate and policy-focused technology newsletters.

Details: About 60 employees will be affected by the changes, and dozens are expected to be laid off, according to CNN, which first reported the news.

  • In the memo to staff, Politico CEO Goli Sheikholeslami said Politico management had explored several options on what to do with Protocol, including “continue to operate Protocol as a stand-alone business or potentially integrate with other brands in the Axel Springer portfolio”.
  • But the company ultimately decided “it didn’t make sense to continue to operate Protocol as a standalone brand and business within PMG and began the process of closing down by the end of the year.”
  • Looking ahead, Sheikholeslami said he plans to introduce the public and Protocol’s advertising partners to Politico’s technology products and coverage.
  • Politico did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Axios.

Backtrack: The protocol got off to a rocky start, launching just weeks before the pandemic shutdowns in 2020.

  • The company laid off 13 people, about a third of its staff at the time.
  • The site was started by former Politico owner Robert Allbritton as a standalone entity outside of Politico, but was acquired by German publishing giant Axel Springer alongside its sister publications Politico and Politico Europe last year.

What to watch: In addition to protocol news, Sheikholeslami announced a new joint management team that will manage Politico’s US and European operations.

  • As part of the restructuring, Claire Boussagol, CEO of Politico Europe, will leave, Sheikholeslami added. Boussagol joined Politico Europe in 2021.

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