- By Natalie Sherman
- Business Journalist, New York
Buzzfeed will shut down its news site and cut its workforce by 15%, chief executive Jonah Peretti said.
It comes as the digital media company faces serious financial challenges, including a drop in advertising spending.
Calling the decisions “deeply painful”, Mr Peretti said he could not invest more in the unprofitable news site.
He said the company would focus on delivering news through HuffPost, which Buzzfeed took over two years ago.
“Our industry is hurting and ready to be reborn,” he said in a memo to staff. “We are striving today and will begin to carve our way into a bright future.”
Founded in 2006, Buzzfeed was once one of the hottest names in online media, known for its quizzes and viral content, as well as a serious news operation.
But the company, which employed more than 1,300 people globally at the end of last year, has moved away from the news as it has become more difficult to generate advertising revenue and audiences and other sectors. activity, such as the production of personalized content, grew faster.
It went public in 2021, but raised far less money than it had hoped.
“While layoffs are occurring in nearly every division, we have determined that the company can no longer continue to fund BuzzFeed News as a stand-alone organization,” Mr. Peretti wrote to staff.
Many other ad-dependent businesses, including media companies and tech giants such as Facebook owner Meta, have made job cuts in recent months, while investors have been forced to reevaluate the values of start-up news companies such as Vice News and Vox Media. News company Insider also revealed Thursday plans to cut its workforce by 10%, or about 95 jobs.
Mr. Peretti said his company, which will continue to operate HuffPost, its Tasty food brand, Complex Networks and its namesake website, had faced broader challenges, but he also blamed himself.
He said he had been “slow to accept” the difficulties of making money from online news with distribution dominated by big tech platforms. The company should have generated more revenue after acquiring Complex in 2021, which runs the Complex music site and other brands, he added.
“I could have handled these changes better as CEO of this company and our management team could have performed better despite these circumstances.” he said.
In her own memo to staff, parts of which she shared on social media, Buzzfeed News editor Karolina Waclawiak said the company should have tried to build a business around its news site sooner. , describing the shutdown as “avoidable”.
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She said the failure was indicative of a wider crisis in journalism and she feared the results if subscription news models were the only ones to survive.
“The implication is that only people who can afford to pay will have access to high quality information while everyone else will have to analyze the rampant misinformation that is widely shared on social platforms,” she wrote. “The consequences of this are disastrous.”
Buzzfeed had already announced several rounds of layoffs in recent years, including one in December that affected around 170 people or 12% of the staff.
The latest cuts affect around 180 jobs. Buzzfeed said it expected to incur $7m (£5.6m)-$11m (£8.8m) in severance and other costs related to the move.
Some press staff could find roles in other parts of the business, the company said.
Shares fell 20% on the news on Thursday, slashing Buzzfeed’s market value to around $100m (£80m) – a fraction of the more than $1.5bn (£1.2bn) valuation. sterling) that investors would have been discussing just two years ago.
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