update deskU.S. News

‘Messenger’ shuts down after running out of money

Co-founder and CEO Jimmy Finkelstein raised $50 million and poached established journalists before the publication closed in less than a year.

Ben Smith (right), co-founder of the publication Semafor, interviews Jimmy Finklestein, founder of The Messenger, at the Semafor Media Summit on April 10, 2023. Source: YouTube/Semafor events.
Ben Smith (right), co-founder of the publication Semafor, interviews Jimmy Finklestein, founder of The Messenger, at the Semafor Media Summit on April 10, 2023. Source: YouTube/Semafor events.

A new media startup that bet big with a staff of hundreds and sky-high traffic targets has crashed back down to earth.

The Messenger launched in May 2023, the brainchild of co-founder and CEO Jimmy Finkelstein, hot from his success of selling The Hill for $130 million in 2021.

With $50 million from investors, Finkelstein went on a spending spree and built a staff of 300—none of whom is now reportedly receiving any severance pay. None of the publication’s archives is publicly available. Its website returns a white page with just “TheMessenger” and an email address.

Finkelstein, who is Jewish, is the son of the late Jerry Finkelstein, who published the New York Law Journal and The Hill.

In May, Jimmy Finkelstein told Vanity Fair that the Messenger was “going after very large advertisers. We expect to have tens of millions of dollars in direct sales in the first year.” The company lost $43 million in 2023.

The publication “will be remembered as the Titanic of publishing disasters,” a media expert told the New York Post.

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