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Dave Portnoy’s return as owner of Barstool Sports is coming with significant changes.
After Penn Entertainment purchased much of site in 2020 for well over $100 million, Barstool expanded significantly. New podcasts, new shows, new writers and content creators meant the company’s employment figures jumped to over 400 employees.
But 2023 is set to be a much different story.
Penn Entertainment announced earlier this month that they’d agreed to a new deal with ESPN, and surprisingly, sold the site back to Dave Portnoy for just $1.
Portnoy immediately set about making changes, with employees chastised for not showing up to work early and questions about who had what responsibilities. And now we find out why.
The New York Post reported that Barstool is set to lay off roughly 25 percent of its total workforce, resulting in around 100 people losing their jobs.
Portnoy earlier this week said on Barstool Sports Radio that he intended to impose layoffs and cuts.
“I’ve been very clear. Anybody that’s paid attention, we are going to have layoffs and cuts, and they’ve started and it sucks,” Portnoy said. “And people who know me from the beginning I hate firing people. You can be incompetent, not work and I generally don’t fire because I hate it so much. It’s the worst thing to f–king do.”
Barstool Reportedly Losing Money
Portnoy also stated that the site is losing significant amounts of money, necessitating the cuts.
“Having said that, we’re in a position it’s a no-brainer,” he said. “It’s not like I have that moral — well you can’t do it because nobody will have jobs. We’ll all not have jobs. So we have to get back to a break-even thing. We’re losing a lot and it sucks.”
It’s a stark change of pace for the site that seemed to be growing rapidly. Some additions were widely praised, like Caleb Pressley and his Sundae Conversation. But other new contributors have been criticized for focusing too heavily on non-sports related content.
It’s unclear how many of the layoffs will affect creators as opposed to behind the scenes talent. But 25 percent is a significant reduction, no matter how you slice it.
Portnoy said he wants to return the site to being a no-holds barred “pirate ship.” Maybe these cuts are the first step in his plans for the future of one of digital media’s strongest brands.