Joe Ricketts
Joe Ricketts speaks during the premiere of 'The Conspirator' presented by The American Film Company, Ford's Theater and Roadside Attractions at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C., April 10, 2011. Getty Images/ Kris Connor

Joe Ricketts, the former CEO and chairman of the brokerage firm Ameritrade, shut down the local media companies DNAinfo and Gothamist along with its affiliates, including DCist on Thursday. Ricketts informed 115 staff across Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington and New York, who got laid off as a result of the abrupt closure, via email of the decision.

“I’ve made the difficult decision to begin the orderly wind down of the DNAinfo/Gothamist business,” Ricketts wrote. “Reaching this decision wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t one I made lightly.”

Although the final decision to keep or liquidize Ricketts’ media companies came down to an all-important vote, the businessman’s statement put up on the sites of DNAinfo, Gothamist and all its other sister sites do not reflect how the fate of these media companies was decided.

"But DNAinfo is, at the end of the day, a business, and businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure," Ricketts wrote in the long statement, which pops up every time one tries to access the domains belonging to his dissolved companies. "And while we made important progress toward building DNAinfo into a successful business, in the end, that progress hasn't been sufficient to support the tremendous effort and expense needed to produce the type of journalism on which the company was founded."

According to Washington Business Journal, the newsrooms of both Gothamist and DNAinfo voted to unionize less than a week ago. Ricketts opposed the move because he thought the process promotes “a corrosive us-against-them dynamic that destroys the esprit de corps businesses need to succeed.”

Ricketts' net worth is estimated by Forbes to be $2.1 billion and he ranks 388 in the magazine’s top 400. He is married to Marlene Ricketts, with whom he has four kids.

Ameritrade was founded by Ricketts in 1997. In 2011, he retired from the board of directors of TD Ameritrade. TD stands for Toronto-Dominion Bank, which is the largest shareholder. At present his son Todd Ricketts is a board member, while Ricketts owns 7 percent of stocks in the company. Joe's children are also majority owners of the Chicago Cubs, which won the World Series in 2016 for the first time in 108 years.

However, the Ricketts family did not always enjoy the kind of luxurious life they are able to afford today. According to Chicago Mag, Joe was born to a carpenter and small businessman and had to work as a janitor in college to pay for his tuition. He also went to school part time and took nine years to graduate from Creighton University after getting married and having children when he was in his early 20s. It was only after he worked as a credit analyst for Dun & Bradstreet, he went on to found his own business in 1975.

Joe’s son Todd was briefly considered to become the deputy commerce secretary for President Donald Trump. However, Todd fought against Trump’s nomination during the republican primaries, choosing to extend his support for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign instead, Heavy reported.

The business mogul praised everyone’s hard work throughout the years in building the companies to the point where millions of people turned to these outlets for informative news every day.