National Geographic is laying off 9% of its workforce two months after expanding its joint venture with 21st Century Fox, placing 180 of the 2,000 employees now working under National Geographic Partners – the joint venture’s new title – out of work.
On Monday (November 2), staffers received an email from CEO Gary Knell asking them to be available on Tuesday to find out how restructuring would impact their jobs. He followed up the next day with another email explaining that job cuts are part of a new strategy.
“There is no doubt that this strategic move will amplify our mission and message across all media platforms with greater resources than today, all while ensuring the sustainability of the Society for many years to come,” he wrote.
“Part of these efforts also means making the toughest of decisions about the staffing needs of the organizations going forward,” the exec continued. “Some of our colleagues will be leaving National Geographic over the next few days and, in some cases, weeks.”
In September, the company sold its controlling stake in the cable channel as well as National Geographic magazine and other publishing, travel and licensing assets, in a deal worth US$725 million. 21st Century Fox now has a 73% share in the company, while the Society has a 27% stake.
“The National Geographic Society and the National Geographic Channels are in the process of reorganizing in order to move forward strategically following the closing [of] the National Geographic Partners deal, which is expected to occur in mid-November,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “All staff have been advised as to their status as of closing.”
In addition to the lay-offs, Nat Geo has also offered buy-outs to an undisclosed number of eligible employees.
According to The Washington Post, the lay-offs thus far have affected National Geographic Channel’s fact-checking division.
Leadership teams for both Partners and the Society will be announced once the deal with Fox closes in mid-November.