The Kernel's back to make new enemies

Having paid off its debts, a controversial online magazine is relaunching. By Oscar Williams-Grut

Oscar Williams-Grut
Sunday 02 June 2013 11:27 BST

An infamous online magazine forced to close over unpaid wages is set to be re-launched with its divisive founder in charge after paying off debts of over £24,000.

London-based online technology magazine The Kernel was launched in November 2011 by former Telegraph technology writer Milo Yiannopoulos with the intention of "fix[ing] European technology journalism".

The site mixed bitchy gossip about the London tech scene, such as an article asking why one German entrepreneur is so sexy, with more considered think pieces. The site led The Observer to dub Yiannopoulos the "pitbull of tech media" while Forbes called him "digital media's Citizen Kane".

But the publication was dogged by complaints from employees and contributors of unpaid wages.

Yiannopoulos's acerbic and often offensive tone – with articles such as "Put a sock in it you dickless wonders" about the number of women at tech conferences – also attracted numerous critics, including The Guardian's technology editor Charles Arthur whom Yiannopoulos claims led a "campaign" against the site.

Former editor Jason Hesse says Yiannopoulos went "too far at times, which I certainly wasn't happy with and was part of the reason why I left".

The Kernel was forced to shut in March after Hesse challenged its parent company, Sentinel Media, over unpaid wages amounting to £16,853, a sum it could not pay.

The Independent on Sunday can reveal that The Kernel will be relaunched in August, backed by German venture capitalist firm Berlin42 and with Mr Yiannopoulos remaining as editor-in-chief.

Berlin42 has acquired the domain for an undisclosed amount, and founding partner Aydogan Ali Schosswald will join its newly formed publishing company, Kernel Media, as chief executive. Yiannopoulos, who has been based in Berlin since April, privately settled debts owed to six former employees and freelancers amounting to around £24,000 in April. He stresses he would not repeat the financial mistakes he made, saying Berlin42 was providing a "runway" to fund the relaunch.

He also defended the tone of The Kernel, saying: "I'm very proud of a lot of the journalism that we published and the vast majority of enemies we made were for good reasons – they are enemies because they're bad people.

"Obviously as an opinionated publication we did and will continue to make enemies."

The relaunched publication, based between London and Berlin, will focus on areas such as modern warfare, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, pornography and space travel. Subscription newsletter The Nutshell, previously The Kernel's sole source of income, will not return.

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