Lenny Letter tells contributors it’s shutting down on Friday

Lenny Letter’s website is shutting down. The site, an outgrowth of a newsletter first run in partnership with Hearst, then Condé Nast, told contributors it will shut down Friday. Staffers were informed of the closure last week, according to an email reviewed by Digiday.

Lenny Letter and Condé Nast, which handles ad sales for the site, haven’t responded to a request for comment. The story will be updated if they do.

Lenny Letter started as a newsletter in 2015. Launched by Lena Dunham and her production partner Jenni Konner, Lenny was supposed to be a place where “an army of like-minded intellectually curious women and the people who love them” could write about everything from feminist issues to tube tops. It named Benjamin Cooley, an entertainment vet, as its CEO, and partnered with Hearst for ad sales.

The newsletter grew to over 500,000 subscribers, helped in part by contributions from stars from Jennifer Lawrence to Janet Mock. It then branched out to a website, podcasting and, briefly, video. A separate book publishing arm, Lenny, has published several titles since its launch, most recently a novel called “Providence.”

The site also had a spate of controversy in the spring of 2017, when the writer Zinzi Clemmons wrote an open letter about her decision to stop working with Dunham, accusing her of racism.

The site stopped producing videos about a year ago, but its podcast hosted by Dunham,“Women of the Hour,” won a Webby in 2017. A more recent foray into storytelling podcasting, “Lenny Says,” was soliciting pitches for its second season as recently as last week. It is not clear if those shows will continue.

The site never managed to build any momentum on new platforms. Its Twitter following has been declining over the past 12 months, according to Crowdtangle data, sliding below 50,000 followers earlier this year. Its Facebook page never managed to climb above 100,000 likes. In 2017, Hearst and Lenny were unable to reach an agreement to renew their partnership, according to The Business of Fashion. It signed a deal with Condé Nast in October.


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