Joe Ricketts
Joe Ricketts

Chicago billionaire Joe Ricketts ordered the immediate shutdown of local electronic news sites Gothamist and DNAinfo on Nov. 2, throwing 115 people in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco out of work.

Known for his conservative views and support for President Trump, Ricketts shuttered the publications following a vote to join the Writers Guild of America East.

In his letter to staff, Ricketts did not mention the union vote for his "difficult decision to discontinue publishing DNAinfo and Gothamist," which share a newsroom.

He launched DNAinfo in 2009 because he saw "an opportunity existed to build a successful company that would report unbiased neighborhood news and information."

At closing, the sites delivered news each day to more than a half million emails, built a base of 2M fans across social channels and attracted more than 15M monthly visitors.

Those numbers weren't enough for them to turn a profit, and Ricketts noted "businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure."

The Ameritrade founder admitted financial progress had be made, but it "wasn't sufficient to support the tremendous effort and expense needed to produce the type of journalism on which the company was founded."

His hope is that "someone will crack the code on a business that can support exceptional neighborhood storytelling."