Looking for legal structure
November 3, 2017 11:33 AM   Subscribe

Billionaire Joe Ricketts shut down news sites Gothamist and DNAinfo, coincidentally, shortly after its journalists voted to unionize. News reports said it was because Ricketts said they both were losing money. But in prior news reports, staff was cheering the vote there was no mention of financial problems.

I searched for news organizations Gothamist and DNAinfo, both as public companies and as non-profits. I can't find them as either. How were they legally organized? I want to see their financials to get an idea if they, in fact, were not viable or if Mr. Ricketts had others reasons for shutting them down.
posted by CollectiveMind to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
There's a lot of information on the Wikipedia pages. They appear to have been organized as for-profit (but not public) organizations. There are also a number of references, one of which is to a New York Times story that claims the sites had been losing money before the unionization, but that that was the last nail in the coffin.
posted by ubiquity at 11:44 AM on November 3, 2017


Gothamist publications were purchased by DNAinfo (owned by Ricketts) about 7 months ago. From wikipedia:
[DNAinfo's] holding company, Hugo Enterprises, LLC, a Nebraska Limited Liability Company, is a holding company for various businesses and ventures owned and operated by Ricketts. Hugo Enterprises, LLC, is the holding company for New Media News, LLC, formed as a Delaware entity on May 2, 2008, and dba DNAinfo. Its registered address New Media News is in Denver, Colorado.
You can look up the corporate record for New Media News, LLC on Delaware's site. (you can look up by name, but the file number is 4542345 in case the name search doesn't work).

It's a privately held company, so there wouldn't be any public financial data available unless it was made public for some other reason (e.g., court filings, grant applications, etc.).
posted by melissasaurus at 11:48 AM on November 3, 2017


Also, New Media News, LLC is likely also authorized to do business in each state in which it operates (e.g., New York, DOS ID 3776624; Illinois, file number 05998875).
posted by melissasaurus at 11:53 AM on November 3, 2017


I want to see their financials to get an idea if they, in fact, were not viable or if Mr. Ricketts had others reasons for shutting them down.

Everyone would. But you can't, they're a private company and have no requirement to disclose any financial information to the public.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 12:04 PM on November 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


The Gothamist trademark registration record says the following.

(REGISTRANT) Gothamist LLC LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY NEW YORK P.O. Box #510 New York NEW YORK 10012

(LAST LISTED OWNER) NEW MEDIA NEWS, LLC DBA DNAINFO LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY DELAWARE 1395 S. PLATTE RIVER DRIVE DENVER COLORADO 80223

"Registrant" was the Gothamist entity when the application was filed in 2005, "last listed owner" is the company that acquired Gothamist earlier this year.
posted by benbenson at 3:12 PM on November 3, 2017


It is a privately held business.Getting financials is next to impossible. I would take him on his word. It was losing money. Unionizing is never going to save a company money. It was a good opportunity for him to cut his losses.

What is more intriguing to me is that he did not try to sell it first. Either it was losing a lot of money and he did not think he could find a buyer, or he could not even give it away. I guess he could have offered it to the employees. That part does sound spiteful, but it is his company and he can do with it as he wants I guess.
posted by AugustWest at 5:46 PM on November 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


"What is more intriguing to me is that he did not try to sell it first. Either it was losing a lot of money and he did not think he could find a buyer, or he could not even give it away."

Scuttlebutt in Chicago is neither; Ricketts is a long-time union opponent who has donated millions of dollars to anti-union politicians and causes. He claims that all businesses that unionize become unprofitable and fail; he does not wait for any businesses of his to become unprofitable, he assumes if they unionize they will be unprofitable, and shutters them.

It would not be in Ricketts' political interests to sell DNAInfo and have it succeed (or even muddle along) as a unionized entity, since his whole schtick is that "free enterprise" and non-union shops are far more profitable (and pay better!) than union shops, which always fail. I would not expect Ricketts to try to sell a unionized business; he would absolutely close it for spite, in order to be able to say, "See? Unionized businesses fail." "But you closed it!" "Because it was going to FAIL!"
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:10 PM on November 3, 2017 [6 favorites]


I heard this interview on NPR yesterday with the former editor of LAist. She clearly says she knows Gothamist and associated sites were profitable.
posted by rainydayfilms at 9:43 AM on November 4, 2017


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