Layoffs and AI-generated content at CNET after Red Ventures acquisition

Richard Flower
Mar 4, 2023
Updated • Mar 4, 2023
Misc, Mobile Computing

Shortly after reports surfaced that technology website CNET was utilizing artificial intelligence to generate articles, the company has implemented significant workforce reductions that include several long-standing employees, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. The layoffs amount to approximately a dozen individuals, or roughly 10% of the company's public-facing staff, as confirmed by a CNET employee.

Layoffs and AI-generated content at CNET after Red Ventures acquisition

CNET's editor-in-chief, Connie Guglielmo, will be relinquishing her role and transitioning to the position of senior vice president of AI content strategy and editor-at-large. An internal draft blog post obtained by other publications outlined these changes. Guglielmo will be succeeded by Adam Auriemma, former editor-in-chief of another Red Ventures-owned publication, NextAdvisor. NextAdvisor's operations appear to have ceased; its last tweet was in January, its website redirects to CNET, and it is no longer listed as one of Red Ventures' brands.

The workforce reductions were initiated on Thursday morning and were internally announced via email by Red Ventures, the marketing-turned-media company that acquired CNET in 2020 with the backing of private equity. 


According to the email, which was authored by Carlos Angrisano, the president of financial services and the CNET Group at Red Ventures, the objective of the cuts was to enable CNET to focus on areas where the website can effectively generate traffic via Google search, a crucial goal for the organization. Angrisano indicated that in order to prepare CNET for a strong future, simplifying operations and the technology stack, as well as investing time and energy more effectively, would be essential.

Angrisano's statement implies that Red Ventures and CNET will concentrate on coverage areas in which they possess a significant level of authority, relevance, and differentiation, and that can have a substantial impact on the lives of their audiences. 'Authority' is a key metric that Google prioritizes while determining the content that ranks high in search results.

Layoffs and AI-generated content at CNET after Red Ventures acquisition
Robot wearing dunce hat sits with head in hand in futuristic circuit backdrop

Former CNET employees assert that, under Red Ventures' ownership, the esteemed publication began focusing more on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to boost its ranking on Google searches. The company places profitable affiliate marketing advertisements for items such as loans or credit cards on these highly trafficked articles, and generates revenue whenever a reader signs up.

According to a current CNET staffer, in the email, Angrisano specified that CNET would concentrate on consumer technology, home and wellness, energy, broadband, and personal finance - the sections that Red Ventures can monetize the most effectively.

However, according to the staff member, those sections, especially home, have become a mere shadow of their former selves. Selling off Smart Home, eliminating the video team, and weakening the editorial team does not align with the ideal way of executing that section.

In January, Futurism disclosed that CNET had published numerous articles since November 2021, using AI tools, surprising its readers as the company had not officially announced it. Other Red Ventures-owned properties, such as Bankrate and, had also published comparable articles. The company ceased the practice after facing public backlash and errors in the articles and pledged to conduct an audit of all articles produced through AI systems. More than half of the articles on CNET required corrections eventually.

Layoffs and AI-generated content at CNET after Red Ventures acquisition

Aside from the shift towards affiliate marketing, former CNET employees informed other publications that working conditions worsened following Red Ventures' acquisition. Ex-staff recounted numerous instances of being coerced to modify their coverage of firms that advertised with Red Ventures, which blatantly violates journalistic ethics and jeopardizes CNET's editorial independence.

Ivey O'Neal, the senior communications manager for CNET, confirmed the layoffs via an email to other publications. 'Today, the CNET Group implemented a reorganization of the team, which unfortunately meant saying goodbye to a number of colleagues,' O'Neal wrote. 'While it was a difficult decision to let employees go, we believe this is critical for the longevity and future growth of the business.'


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  1. Anonymous said on March 4, 2023 at 6:32 pm

    This seems conterintuitive. Large languge AI models need these people to originate the content from which it learns. AI models will be much less effective without them.

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