Bustle backlash: How the launch of a website for women turned into a big mess

Highlighting the "bust" in Bustle.

When Bleacher Report co-founder Bryan Goldberg announced his new venture, Bustle.com, on Tuesday, Aug. 13, it was with the declaration, "You're damn right this is a feminist publication." Goldberg raised $6.5 million to launch the site, which he pitched as an "opportunity to completely transform women's publishing," a first-of-its-kind website targeted to women (a claim many took issue with).

In an article for the Silicon Valley-focused website Pando Daily, Goldberg wrote:

Isn’t it time for a women’s publication that puts world news and politics alongside beauty tips? What about a site that takes an introspective look at the celebrity world, while also having a lot of fun covering it? How about a site that offers career advice and book reviews, while also reporting on fashion trends and popular memes?
Then the site launched -- and the backlash began. Feminist bloggers, media pundits, and even investors in the website criticized Goldberg. Much of the response was negative, leading Goldberg to backtrack and issue an apology.

Today, Goldberg took to Pando Daily to write:

I messed up. There has been a lot of response to my fundraise blog post on PandoDaily on Tuesday. Most of that response has been negative. And there are many good reasons for the criticism:
  • It over-simplified the editorial landscape.
  • It failed to highlight the fact that there are a lot of great women’s publications out there.
  • It took a tongue-in-cheek approach for part of the fundraise announcement, at one point joking about cosmetics. That was a horrible decision. Especially given how difficult it is for people (and women especially) to raise capital to bring their ideas to life. I put an immense amount of time into getting Bustle off the ground. I owed it to myself, my team, and all entrepreneurs to treat the moment with full seriousness.
  • To a lot of people, it came across as pandering. And it doesn’t matter if that wasn’t my intention. That’s how it came across.
What do you think of Bustle? What's up with its name? Did the negative response just drum up more publicity for the site? Take a look at some of our favorite social media reactions:

About the author

Daryl Paranada is the associate web producer for Marketplace overseeing all daily website content and production, as well as producing multimedia features -- including the popular economic explainer series Whiteboard -- and special projects. Follow him on Twitter @darylparanada.


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