A recent Facebook algorithm change seems to have claimed a high-profile casualty: LittleThings, a digital publisher focused on inspirational and how-to content for women, which shut down yesterday.
I wrote about the company at the beginning of 2016, when it raised debt funding from City National Bank. At the time, it seemed to be flying high, becoming one of the largest lifestyle publishers online and, according to one report, publishing the single most popular Facebook post in 2015.
But things were a bit rockier in recent months, according to a staff memo from CEO Joe Speiser that was published by Business Insider. Apparently there were “especially large setbacks” in August of last year, and while LittleThings managed “to quickly right the ship, and rebuild the company with new business lines and revenue streams,” Speiser began talking to larger media organizations about an acquisition.
Then Facebook made another big change to its algorithm, one that was supposed to prioritize content from friends and family over news publishers. Speiser said this cut LittleThings’ influencer and organic traffic (which was its most valuable traffic) by 75 percent.
“No previous algorithm update ever came close to this level of decimation,” he wrote. “The position it put us in was beyond dire. The businesses looking to acquire LittleThings got spooked and promptly exited the sale process, leaving us in jeopardy of our bank debt convenants and ultimately bringing an expedited end to our incredible story.”
Speiser said he’s hoping to find some way to resurrect the LittleThings brand in the future. In the meantime, the company is done.