RIP, BuzzFeed News. Who’s next?


BuzzFeed Inc. is shutting down its news operation as part of a retrenchment that will result in pink slips for about 180 employees.

Article content

Both Chief Operating Officer Christian Baesler and Chief Revenue Officer Edgar Hernandez are leaving as part of the cutbacks, Chief Executive Officer Jonah Peretti said Thursday in a memo to staff.

Article content

“We are moving forward only with parts of the business that have demonstrated their ability to add to the bottom line,” Peretti said in the memo. “That means we will no longer be supporting BuzzFeed News as a standalone organization.”

Once a growing online source of news and information, BuzzFeed has stalled in recent months, with advertisers pulling back and revenue in decline. Despite numerous job cuts, the company has been unable to sustain a profit.

BuzzFeed will focus its news operations on HuffPost, which was acquired in 2020 and is profitable, and continue to operate its namesake website, along with the youth-oriented media business Complex, Tasty, and First We Feast.

Marcela Martin, BuzzFeed’s president, will take over the responsibilities of a chief revenue officer. The company will be offering roles elsewhere in the organization to a number of BuzzFeed News employees.

Shares of BuzzFeed lost 16% to 79 cents in New York trading. The company went public at $10 a share in January 2021. Comcast Corp., a major investor, reported in February that its stake in the company had fallen to 16%.

BuzzFeed's news department has long been known for being highly esteemed but unprofitable, with the company relying heavily on its profitable quizzes and pop culture content. CEO Jonah Peretti's plan was to merge with or acquire other large digital media companies, in order to go public and create a new, self-sustaining media company. However, despite acquiring HuffPost and Complex Networks, BuzzFeed's declining stock and current $100 million valuation is a far cry from its previous valuations of $850 million and $1.5 billion. Other similar digital media companies, such as Vice, have also struggled to find success, signaling a potentially difficult period for the industry. 

While some companies, such as Axios, have managed to sell themselves for healthy prices, the advertising market is currently weak and subscription models have limitations. Amidst this uncertain landscape, the hunt is on for reasons to be optimistic in the media.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post