Matt Taibbi, the slash-and-burn polemicist who has become one of the most scathing critics of Wall Street, has left First Look Media only months after he joined the startup.
Billionaire Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay who started First Look a year ago, announced Taibbi’s departure in a blog post published shortly before midnight.
“We’re disappointed by how things have turned out,” Omidyar wrote. “I was excited by Matt’s editorial vision and hoped to help him bring it to fruition. Now we turn our focus to exploring next steps for the talented team that has worked to create Matt’s publication.”
Omidyar’s announcement late Tuesday came only hours after New York Magazine’s Andrew Rice reported that Taibbi had taken a leave of absence several weeks ago.
While Omidyar insisted that his differences with Taibbi “were never about editorial independence,” Rice’s report indicated that Taibbi’s “confrontational approach … appears to have contributed to internal trouble at First Look.”
Taibbi joined First Look in February after spending more than 15 years at Rolling Stone. He was hired by Omidyar to launch a second digital magazine for the organization. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald was brought in as the face of the company’s first magazine, The Intercept, which went live the same month as Taibbi’s hire.
Omidyar originally envisioned several magazines at First Look, but those plans changed in July when he announced that the company would initially focus only on building The Intercept and Taibbi’s platform, which will reportedly be called Racket.
Racket had planned a soft launch for the end of October, but those plans changed at some point this month.
In his blog post, Omidyar pledged to “take what we’ve learned in the last several months and apply it to our efforts in the future.”
“Above all, we remain committed to our team and to the First Look mission,” he wrote.