Up To 40 Of Pedestrian's 95 Staff To Go As Vice, Refinery29 Shut

9 July 2024 | 2:47 pm | Mary Varvaris

Pedestrian Group's CEO, Matt Rowley, will step down as a result of the changes following a transition period.


VICE (Credit: Fraufau, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Tech, culture, and entertainment websites Vice, Gizmodo, Refinery29, Kotaku, and Lifehacker will cease publishing in Australia as up to 40 jobs at Pedestrian Group have been slashed. 

Pedestrian Group—owned by Nine—is being restructured. As a result of the reorganisation, the brands Pedestrian was previously licenced to publish will no longer be running. Pedestrian took over the aforementioned brands in 2019 upon merging with Nine and Fairfax.

The company's CEO, Matt Rowley, will step down as a result of the changes following a transition period, and a new CEO will be appointed soon. According to a recent Sydney Morning Herald report, Pedestrian employed 95 workers, with up to 40 people’s jobs cut per an announcement yesterday (8 July).

“We’ve made the tough decision to focus on our wholly owned Pedestrian brands where we control the strategy, the content, the product, the sales and the outcome – the entire business,” Rowley wrote in an email to staff informing them of the changes (per The Guardian). “This will have an impact on roles within the group and I appreciate the uncertainty this change creates, so we will be in contact immediately with those people.”

David Smith, the previous Managing Editor of Kotaku Australia, announced the publication's closure in a statement on X (formerly known as Twitter).

“Folks, I have some sad news to share. Today, the story of Kotaku Australia comes to a sad and abrupt end. It has been one of the great joys of my life to wake up every day and run a site I love with all my heart,” Smith wrote.

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The statement continued, “To all my comrades at Pedestrian Group, I love you, I have never worked with better or more talented souls in all my life. To the readers, thank you for showing up every single day, even the whingers in the comments.”

Offering a shoutout to writers Emily Spindler and Ruby Innes, Smith added, “To every single freelancer that has ever pitched me, ever got words on the site, ever helped us out when we had gaps in the staff or people were on breaks, thank you. You're all wonderful and so, so talented. A gift to have your words on the page.

“I have loved this job. We were the second-highest read site in the group after PTV, and we still had so much we wanted to do. The plans I had were just getting started. Alas. I will be taking a break for a bit now, but know that it has been a pleasure and an honour to serve you.”

Gizmodo Australia writer Zachariah Kelly said, “I loved Gizmodo Australia. I gave it my all, I built a strong EV coverage pillar, and this happens”.

Crikey’s Cameron Wilson wrote in response to the news, “this is so sad. Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Vice, Refinery29 and Kotaku were doing stuff no one else was doing in Australia, and they have such talented writers and creators.”

Journalist Alice Clarke added, “This is absolutely devastating news. Gizmodo and Kotaku have been so, so important for games and tech coverage in Australia. So many great writers got their start there. Important stories were broken.

“This is a huge blow for tech and games journalism, & a very short sighted move.”