Outside Inc. Lays Off Scores of Workers in Major Restructure


Outside characterized its decision to recently lay off 85-90 employees as ‘difficult but necessary.’ The family of publications looks to transition away from print content, and some titles will disappear.

Ever since Pocket Outdoor Media rebranded itself as Outside Inc. when it acquired the company in early 2021, it’s made splash after splash, acquiring publication after publication.

Now, the growing outdoor media giant is doing some pruning among its expanding staff.

In a statement, Outside said the layoffs represent a measure to “reduce headcount.” It also indicated that it’s making a decisive move away from print publishing and later confirmed that several titles will either cease or sharply reduce production.

Backpacker, Climbing, Trail Runner, Beta, Peloton, and Oxygen all landed on the chopping block.

According to Denver Business Journal, bike magazines Peloton and Beta, as well as general fitness magazine Oxygen, will disappear within the next 6 months.

And except for flagship title Outside Magazine, most of the rest of its print roster will lapse into the background, publishing only one or two issues a year.

Outside Trims Staff

“Outside has grown tremendously over the past two years, with 20 acquisitions and a quadrupled paid membership to over 800K paid subscribers, but growth often necessitates change. In line with what many in the media industry have seen as the future of media, we are making a concerted shift from a high volume of print to a greater focus on immersive video and digital storytelling.

“With this shift, Outside made the difficult but necessary decision to reduce headcount. We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who has played an active role in helping the brand progress towards our vision of being the leading platform for outdoor content, services, and activity,” the company stated.

It remains to be seen what that “immersive video and digital storytelling” looks like, but the writing’s been on the wall for some time as far as its print publications.

When it was still Pocket in late 2020, it decided to merge Climbing with Rock & Ice. And recently, it announced the “Outerverse,” which it positions as an outdoorsy alternative to Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse.

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“The goal is really to create more immersive, high-quality storytelling,” Outside CEO Robin Thurston told Denver Business Journal. “We’ll still have some print. But on a move-forward basis, we’re really trying to move into more high-quality video.”

The company’s current membership platform launched in 2020. Through it, readers fill out a “membership questionnaire,” and then the company’s algorithm feeds them curated content. The idea aims to drive traffic based on reader interest across the network’s various websites.

Print components do not play a role in the service.

“There’s nobody who’s just a mountain biker. If you’re a mountain biker, you’re probably a skier. If you’re into hiking, you may also be into yoga,” said Jon Dorn, vice president and general manager of Outside Interactive Inc. “This is a big attempt to turn the (traditional media) model on its head and to support great journalism through great customer enthusiasm.”

Former owner Larry Burke sold Outside to Pocket in a deal that closed on February 22, 2021. The venture capital-backed firm swelled to include over 30 outlets. Soon after, some of its editors unionized amid apparent organizational turmoil.

Thurston confirmed that the layoffs represent 15% of its 580 employees, which works out to 85-90 people.

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