When he announced his in-the-works local news site Ratter last year, former Gawker editor A.J. Daulerio told Capital New York he wanted Ratter editors across the country to “be tenacious distractions to their respective power-elites.”
But the “distractions” are wholly internally directed. Daulerio cut his entire editorial staff Wednesday. He laid off assistant editor Michael Rosen, Ratter San Francisco editor Will Kane and Los Angeles editor Brittany Malooly. Last week, Daulerio let go the site’s managing editor, Kate Conger. Julia Schweizer, Ratter’s VP of operations, is still with the company. Daulerio confirmed the news over the phone.
“We’re still a young business, and this is more a pivot than it is anything else. We have a couple things coming up in the next couple months that we’d be better off starting from scratch with,” Daulerio said.
In March 2014, Daulerio told Capital New York he was using seed money from Gawker Media, Mark Cuban and other investors to launch Ratter, a local news site with a “tabloid sensibility.” The total funding wasn’t disclosed, but Gawker Media kicked in $500,000 and the company’s value was set at $2.5 million.
Daulerio became well known at Deadspin and Gawker for breaking stories like the Brett Favre sexting scandal and for stunts like taking LSD and trying to pitch a no-hitter in a baseball video game. When he left Gawker in January 2013, boss Nick Denton called Daulerio “the most successful editor of Gawker.com” — praise which he backed up by bringing in Daulerio for a temporary stint to revive Gawker’s Hollywood gossip site, Defamer.
Since its November launch, Ratter’s biggest story appears to be a post by Daulerio on harassing sexts allegedly sent by Justin Bieber (they weren’t). Ratter has also run thoughtful dispatches from a transgender prison guard at San Quentin Prison and a series on San Francisco’s Zodiac serial killer.
On what prompted the layoffs, Daulerio said, “My assessment of where things were headed editorially — I felt it was the best move at this point, while we are still relatively small. It’s nothing against the people who were there, it’s about giving the business the opportunity to succeed.”
When asked if Ratter was planning on hiring new staff soon, he said it was “to be determined.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.