On Wednesday, ex-staffers of The Messenger launched a GoFundMe to raise $50,000 for their fellow newly unemployed colleagues.
The site, which shut down abruptly last week, was founded by Jimmy Finkelstein, who is now facing a class-action lawsuit by the 270 people former staffers, who were laid off without severance.
The lawsuit was filed by Pilar Belendez-Desha, formerly a senior producer at the site, in the Southern District of New York. It argues that Finkelstein violated New York Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) for not giving proper notice.
Organizers of the GoFundMe account, Jody Serrano and Mónica Zorrilla, previously tech and entertainment reporters at The Messenger, hope to help those who “don’t have a safety net for support while we look for a new job.”
“Working through this traumatic incident over the past few days has been challenging,” they wrote on GoFundMe. “…We face an uphill journey, and would greatly appreciate any support for our staff.”
Serrano and Zorrilla stated they will be directly distributing the amount raised equally among staffers via the “payment app of their choice.”
They added, “We firmly believe in transparency and will publish a report that includes the number of people that were helped by these donations and proof that they received the funds — without disclosing personal information out of respect for their privacy — after the fundraiser.”
By Wednesday night, the site had raised nearly $10,000 from more than 120 donations. Among the public donors are former digital editor-in-chief Michelle Gotthelf and Ben White, who was the site’s chief Wall Street correspondent: Each donated $500.
The Messenger launched with great fanfare in May 2023 after Finkelstein raised $50 million. However, he burned through that amount in less than a year. Ex-employees told TheWrap the site was overstaffed, with many pointing to Finkelstein’s decision to rent premium office space in New York City, which was usually “9/10ths empty,” as one of his many missteps.
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