Journalists say they are “devastated” after Nine announced a cost-cutting restructure of its youth-focused Pedestrian Group, which will see up to 40 jobs cut and prominent technology and gaming sites shut down.

The restructuring will see Pedestrian Group CEO Matt Rowley depart and the company leave its licensing deals with third-party brands such as technology site Gizmodo, gaming site Kotaku, and productivity site Lifehacker.

The Australian versions of the sites — as well as Pedestrian’s local iterations of Vice and lifestyle site Refinery29 — will close in the coming months and many of its 95 staff let go, Nine's mastheads reported on Monday.

It appears Pedestrian’s other wholly owned technology publication The Chainsaw will also close, according to social media posts by its journalists.

Pedestrian Group said it would now focus on its own brands, Pedestrian and Pedestrian TV.

In a note to staff seen by Information Age, Rowley told Pedestrian Group employees that "financial headwinds” experienced by its license partners and advertisers spending more on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram had impacted the decision.

"Given these factors, we’ve made the tough decision to focus on our wholly owned Pedestrian brands where we control the strategy, the content, the product, the sales and the outcome – the entire business," he said.

"This means that we will transition out of our current brand licences, which will reposition our business for the future.

"This will have an impact on roles within the group and I appreciate the uncertainty this change creates, so we will be in contact immediately with those people.

"Where possible, we will look for opportunities for redeployment and will continue to work with everyone over the coming days to support this difficult transition."

Rowley said Pedestrian Group was "a highly successful business", but "the shift in global and Australian publishing markets" meant publishing licensed brands was "no longer a sustainable business model".

Kerri Elstub, the director of Nine’s main news website, reportedly told staff that some of its roles would also be made redundant as budgets were adjusted.

Nine said it would not comment on the restructure.

Outgoing Pedestrian Group CEO Matt Rowley. Photo: Pedestrian Group

'A massive blow to tech journalism’

Many Pedestrian employees shared their grief on social media on Monday, amid an outpouring of shock and disappointment from other journalists and media figures.

Gizmodo Australia managing editor Athina Mallis wrote on X that she was “heartbroken and devastated” that the site was shutting down.

In a statement on LinkedIn, Mallis added: “This is a massive blow to tech journalism in Australia, an already struggling, small (and might I say incestuous) industry.”

Gizmodo Australia journalist Zachariah Kelly wrote: “I loved Gizmodo Australia. I gave it my all, I built a strong EV coverage pillar, and this happens.

“It's a bad day and I feel very angry!”

Kotaku Australia managing editor David Smith announced the site he led was coming “to a sad and abrupt end”.

“It has been one of the great joys of my life to wake up every day and run a site I love with all my heart,” he said.

“To the readers, thank you for showing up every single day, even the whingers in the comments.”

The Chainsaw’s community manager Jie Yee Ong, who presented many of the site’s social media videos, said she was “so proud of what we achieved”.

"It’s abrupt and shitty but what can you do."

Seamus Byrne, the first editor of Gizmodo Australia, wrote on LinkedIn that the sites “deserved better than they've gotten today. No farewell. No thanks for all the fish".

“'End of an era' is a much-abused term,” he said.

“But this is absolutely the end of something important and special for Australian nerd audiences.”

Restructure follows Nine cuts, loss of Meta deal

News of Pedestrian Group’s restructuring comes after Nine announced its own redundancies of around 200 jobs in June, including 90 from its publishing division.

Staff at Nine were reportedly told those cuts were needed due to factors such as declining revenues, increasing costs, and social media giant Meta not renewing its deals with the company under the News Media Bargaining Code.

The redundancies at Pedestrian’s technology sites also follow the closure of Australian versions of other tech news sites in recent years, including Gamespot, ZDNet, Business Insider and CNET.

Nine took a 60 per cent stake in Pedestrian (then called Pedestrian TV) in 2015 for a reported $10 million, before purchasing the remaining 40 per cent of the company for $39 million in 2018.

Nine and Fairfax Media merged at the end of 2018, with Pedestrian TV and Allure Media merging to form Pedestrian Group.