Yesterday, there were some major staffing changes, and the end result is that two long-time Community Managers, Shog9 and Robert Cartaino, are no longer with Stack Overflow, Inc. This seems to be a nonsensical move at a time when the Community Team is stretched thinner and thinner each day. Firing two of them would seem to be at odds with keeping the network healthy and functioning.
We haven't been able to get more than a cursory response from the company as to what the heck is going on. I've been able to formulate maybe a couple explanations where a move like this makes an ounce of sense. Foremost among them - and one that I think is in the front of the minds of many - is that the company needs fewer Community Managers going forward because there will be fewer communities to manage. Area 51 - where Robert was the guiding soul - could be formally shut down. Many of the smaller network sites could be at risk - after all, efforts to bring them out of beta or form new sites seem to have ground to a halt.
If this is the case, it would be nice to know. One thing I have yet to get an answer to from a CM is whether or not either Area 51 or network sites are at risk of being shut down. I'm not trying to be alarmist; I'd simply like to go to bed tonight feeling slightly more confident that I won't wake up to HSM or Mythology gone tomorrow. Other questions have addressed SO's broader goals and community management strategy, but I don't think anyone's explicitly asked the question:
Are there plans to shut down Area 51 or beta sites across the network?
If someone has, I can't find the answer. I wouldn't mind getting one. If I'm completely misreading things, I think a "no" should be easy enough to get, and I'd like to see it out in the open.
Update, April 14 2020
It looks like for the first time in about a year, a new site has entered private beta - Drones and Model Aircraft. This seems like a really promising sign. This doesn't necessarily indicate that Area 51 is here to stay for any long period of time, but it does mean that SO is not opposed to the creation of new sites.