Jaxon, a one-of-a-kind space-themed ‘virtual influencer’ and esports tabloid publication, will be shutting down its services, according to Christian Slot, the platform’s Editor in Chief.
Staff members, which includes journalists and writers, were notified of the publication’s situation late last month.
Jaxon was co-owned and co-funded by Samsung Electronics and Upday, a service of Samsung, as well as Axel Springer SE, a German digital publishing company that owns numerous multimedia news outlets.
Since the publication’s launch — which was an application first and website second — Jaxon put heavy emphasis on creating a comprehensive esports experience for its German audience. The company noted the country’s rapid esports growth as a reason it took interest in relaying sought after news, content and trends.
According to former staff familiar with the situation, Axel Springer was first to cut funding from the project. This left Samsung with the decision of either filling in the gap, or joining Axel Springer in cutting funding. Ultimately, it went with the latter.
When speaking to Esports Insider, the former staff noted that Axel Springer had been down on revenue. The question of ‘by how much?’ remains unanswered as Axel Springer SE’s decision to delist in 2020 allowed the company to be exempt from publishing any financial statements. The last financial report that was published, which evaluated the 2020 fiscal year, saw Axel Springer’s revenue falling by nearly 5%, and its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation falling by 13%.
Jaxon was also not the first subsidiary of Axel Springer to close. Technology news website ‘Protocol,’ which launched in 2020, was shut down last month.
Earlier this year, the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education (CULT), unanimously adopted a parliamentary report calling on the European Union (EU) to “acknowledge and better fund the video game and esports ecosystem in Europe.” It is no secret that Germany, which houses the world’s largest entities in terms of events, organisations, and leagues, is widely considered to be Europe’s esports hub. However, the country, like many, has been impacted by the pan-European economic recession.
Multiple former employees—all of whom chose to remain anonymous—spoke to Esports Insider and shared their experiences during their time at Jaxon. Overall, they described it as a positive workplace environment.
One staff member said it was a ‘great place’ to work at and another praised its ‘nice and simple culture’ and ‘excellent staff’. Meanwhile, another said they did not feel pressure when they could not meet their weekly quota, as the editorial board was understanding. There were also no complaints about pay.
Staff were also surprised at the parent companies’ decision to back out of this project, as readership numbers had been great. This was confirmed by Sebastian Gastl, former General Manager of Jaxon, in a statement back to Esports Insider: “Jaxon actually was doing very well in 2022,” he said. “[We] managed to reach more than 1m monthly page views organically within 3 months as well as 3m monthly social media views on Twitter and TikTok. In the end, we were 100% above our set targets for growth – but it was not enough to keep us alive.”
Despite a disappointing end, Gastl reflected positively on Jaxon: “We all are very proud of what we have achieved in a very short amount of time and it was a pleasure to see so many young editors grow and develop and produce amazing content. I will miss working with each and every one of them on a daily level and I think we had a great culture of trust and respect within the team.”
Jaxon’s closure records another blow to esports and games journalism. Jaxon joins other publications like Comcast’s gaming content network G4 TV, Rush B Media, and others that have shut down earlier this year. This is a rampant issue in the industry currently, as other publications have struggled with finances. Upcomer, which is now owned by GAMURS, and Inven Global, among others, had to lay off members of its editorial team.