Mic (media company)

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Type of site
Available inEnglish
Founded2011; 13 years ago (2011) (as PolicyMic)[1]
OwnerBustle Digital Group
Founder(s)Chris Altchek
Jake Horowitz
Current statusActive

Mic is an American internet and media company based in New York City that caters to millennials.[2][3]

Originally known as PolicyMic, it rose to prominence after its on-the-ground coverage of the Tunisian Revolution in 2011.[4][5] In April 2014, the company reached 19 million unique monthly visitors.[6]

On November 29, 2018, Mic laid off the majority of their staff—60 to 70 people[7]—after Facebook canceled a deal to publish a news video series.[8]



Mic was co-founded in 2011 as PolicyMic by Chris Altchek and Jake Horowitz, two high school friends from New York.[4] In January 2014, the two were named to the annual list of Forbes 30 Under 30.[9]

In 2014, the company announced it would re-brand their organization to target millennials, renaming themselves as "Mic".[10] The company purchased the domain name for a reported $500,000 and explained the name change as the company reflecting its "expanded focus and bold vision." Later in 2014, Chris Miles, the managing editor of news, was fired over allegations of plagiarism.[9]

Mic's news director, Jared Keller, was fired in February 2015 after the blog website Gawker found various levels of plagiarism in 20 different passages of his work.[11] In March 2016, Mic acquired curated video app Hyper as well its developer, AntiHero.[12]

Past advisors to the company include David Shipley, executive editor of Bloomberg View and former op-ed page editor at The New York Times, and Jacob Lewis, the former managing editor of The New Yorker.[13] Allison Goldberg, senior vice president of Time Warner Investments, joined Mic's board of directors in April 2017.[14]

Mic senior reporter Jack Smith IV was fired in September 2018 after several sexual misconduct accusations against him were published on Jezebel.[15]

On November 29, 2018, a majority of the staff were laid off after Facebook canceled a video deal with the company.[8] Altchek notified staff during an all-hands meeting, saying that "Facebook caught us by surprise at a really bad time" and that "The majority of the teams including people, finance, HR, productions, video, editorial, marketing, revenue and executive team will be departing, effective today."[16] The same day, Mic was sold to Bustle Media Group for less than $5 million, which was a fraction of the "hundreds of millions" that Altchek said the site was worth in 2017.[7]



Since 2018, Mic has produced video content covering social justice and progressive issues, described as "serious issues important to young people",[17] distributed through the Mic website and through social media. This content is supplemented with advertorial videos produced for clients.[18]

Writing for Forbes in 2014, Abe Brown described PolicyMic's style as hyperbolic, with a mix of serious analysis of issues and attention-seeking listicles. Brown grouped the site with Upworthy, BuzzFeed, and Business Insider as opposed to more conventional news media such as The New York Times and The Washington Post.[4] In an effort to improve Mic's editorial quality, the company recruited Cory Haik as publisher, and Kerry Lauerman as executive editor, both from The Post.[19]

The site sometimes enlists politician and celebrity contributors; these have included Senator Rand Paul,[20] former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,[21] Senator Kirsten Gillibrand[22] and radio host Daisy Rosario.[23] In December 2013, the White House worked with Mic on what was called an "Open Mic" competition to "make health care work for our generation".[24][25][26]

Funding and revenue


Mic generates revenue through advertising known as "branded content". Digiday.com reported in November 2014 that "brands like Microsoft, Cole Haan, Cadillac and most recently GE have all tapped Mic in the last few months in the hopes of using its millennial expertise to reach the site's audience of educated 20-somethings".[27]

The New York Observer positively reacted to the company's financial practices in 2014, saying that Mic had not made a profit and "is in the increasingly rare habit of actually paying each one of its contributors".[28]

As of April 2017, the company had raised $52 million[14] in funding from investors, including Lightspeed Venture Partners, Lerer Ventures, Advancit Capital, Red Swan Ventures, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation,[29] Time Warner Investments, Kyu Collective and You & Mr Jones.[14] The company has not disclosed its valuation,[6] though The Wall Street Journal reported in April 2017 that it was "in the range of the 'mid hundreds of millions' of dollars."[14]

The company laid off several employees in late 2017, as did other digital media companies.[18] Inconsistencies in tracking viewer numbers, changes in Facebook's algorithms and advertising rates, and an overemphasis on search-friendly text stories were all cited as partial reasons.[18][30] The company shifted business models, with less content being produced overall in favor of longer-form video journalism covering social justice and progressive causes. Business Insider cited the company's strategy as an example of the "pivot to video" idea common among digital media companies during that time.[18]

See also



  1. ^ "PolicyMic.com WHOIS, DNS, & Domain Info". DomainTools. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  2. ^ "Mic's plans to become a millennial media powerhouse". Fortune.
  3. ^ "Mic: Media company for millennials". Fox5NY.com. Archived from the original on August 23, 2017. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Brown, Abram (May 28, 2014). "The Media Startup Getting 20-Year-Olds To Talk About More Than Cat Pictures". Forbes. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  5. ^ Dietz, David (January 19, 2011). "Snapshot of a New Tunisia: An Uneasy, But Hopeful Calm". PolicyMic. Archived from the original on May 8, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Stelter, Brian (April 28, 2014). "Another $10 million in funding for PolicyMic, a startup with shades of BuzzFeed and Upworthy". CNNMoney. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Pivoting to nowhere: How Mic ran out of radical makeovers". Digiday. November 30, 2018. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Kafka, Peter (November 29, 2018). "Mic has laid off the majority of its staff". Recode. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  9. ^ a b Strachan, Maxwell (July 23, 2019). "The Fall Of Mic Was A Warning". HuffPost. Archived from the original on July 24, 2019. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  10. ^ "'Mic' Drop: PolicyMic Changes Its Name, Revamps Layout". The New York Observer. June 19, 2014. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  11. ^ Barr, Jeremy; Sterne, Peter (February 12, 2015). "Mic fires news director after plagiarism investigation". Politico. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  12. ^ "Mic Acquires Video App Hyper". AdWeek. March 8, 2016. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  13. ^ Bilton, Ricardo (February 7, 2014). "Can PolicyMic become the voice of the millennials?". Digiday. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  14. ^ a b c d Shields, Mike (April 7, 2017). "Digital Publisher Mic Raises $21 Million in Series C Round". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  15. ^ Levine, Jon (September 25, 2018). "Mic Terminates Reporter After 'Multiple, Disturbing Allegations'". TheWrap. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  16. ^ Strachan, Maxwell (November 30, 2018). "Here's The Excruciating Audio Of Mic's Co-founder Telling Everyone It's Over". HuffPost. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  17. ^ Lewis, Hilary (April 17, 2014). "The Next Buzzfeed? 5 Hot New Websites". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  18. ^ a b c d Shields, Mark (March 11, 2018). "Digital media startup Mic says it's doing just fine despite talk of an industry Armageddon". Business Insider. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  19. ^ "Kerry Lauerman leaves the Washington Post for Mic".
  20. ^ Paul, Rand (March 13, 2013). "I Filibustered to Defend Millennials". PolicyMic. Archived from the original on May 8, 2014. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  21. ^ Rice, Condoleezza (October 3, 2011). "America Tries its Best". PolicyMic. Archived from the original on May 8, 2014. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  22. ^ Gillibrand, Kirsten (April 30, 2013). "Ending the Epidemic of Sexual Assault in the Military". IdentityMic. Archived from the original on May 1, 2013. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  23. ^ "Daisy Rosario". Futuro Media Group. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  24. ^ Bhuiyan, Johana (December 4, 2013). "White House taps PolicyMic to engage millennials on A.C.A." Capital New York. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  25. ^ Horowitz, Jake (December 12, 2013). "Here's What Millennials Think Obama Should Do to Make Health Care Better for Our Generation". PolicyMic. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
  26. ^ OpenMic Editors (March 31, 2014). "The White House Responds to PolicyMic's Health Care Open Mic". PolicyMic. Retrieved March 19, 2015. {{cite web}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  27. ^ Bilton, Ricardo (November 25, 2014). "Inside Mic's millennial native ads pitch to brands". Digiday. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  28. ^ Smith, Jack IV (April 29, 2014). "PolicyMic Raises $10 Million To Keep Chasing The Millennial News Audience". The New York Observer. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
  29. ^ Ha, Anthony (October 15, 2013). "PolicyMic Raises $3M, Betting That Millennials Want Substantive News and Commentary". TechCrunch. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  30. ^ Mullin, Benjamin (January 11, 2018). "How Many People Did That Story Reach? It Depends Who's Counting". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 6, 2018.