BuzzFeed News To Shut Down As Digital Media Company Cuts Workforce By 15%

BuzzFeed News, which earned as reputation as a scrappy news-breaking digital rival to legacy media brands, is shutting down.

Jonah Peretti, the CEO of BuzzFeed, announced to staffers in a memo on Thursday that they will concentrate their news efforts on HuffPost, “a brand that is profitable with a highly engaged, loyal audience that is less dependent on social platforms.” He said that some BuzzFeed employees may find roles at HuffPost and Parent company BuzzFeed bought HuffPost from Verizon Media in 2020.

Peretti also said that BuzzFeed is reducing its workforce by 15%, and begin discussions with the NewsGuild about the cutbacks.

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The layoffs and decision to shut down BuzzFeed News mark the latest upheaval in news media, particularly among some once high-flying stars in the digital space, which is experiencing a pullback in advertising revenue. Other legacy brands, including CNN and NPR, also have undergone significant layoffs in the past six months.

But in his memo, Peretti outlined a series of challenges that BuzzFeed, which he co-founded in 2006, has faced in recent years.

“We’ve faced more challenges that I can could in the past few years: a pandemic, a fading SPAC market that yielded less capital, a tech recession, a tough economy, a declining stock market, a decelerating digital advertising market and ongoing audience and platform shifts,” Peretti wrote. “Dealing with all of these obstacles at once is part of why we’ve needed to make the difficult decisions to eliminate more jobs and reduce spending.”

He also acknowledged that he “could have managed these changes better as the CEO of this company and our leadership team could have performed better despite these circumstances.” He wrote that the integration process of BuzzFeed and Complex Networks, the lifestyle and entertainment company it acquired in 2021, “should have been executed faster and better.”

Peretti also announced that chief revenue officer Edgar Hernandez and chief operating officer Christian Baesler were departing the company. Marcela Martin, BuzzFeed’s president, will take on the revenue functions. In the U.S., Andrew Guendjoian will become the new head of sales, while Ken Blom will continue in his role as head of revenue operations. Rich Reid will oversee international sales as head of international and head of studio.

BuzzFeed stock experienced yet more volatility on the latest bad news for the company, plunging as much as 26% before recovering slightly to trade in the range of 85 cents. The shares went public in December 2021 and the IPO triggered a class-action lawsuit from dozens of employees who accused the company of putting them through “Kafka-esque tribulations” in order to realize financial benefits from the offering.

The company plans to report its first-quarter earnings on May 9.

More to come.

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