BuzzFeed to 'reorient' itself, sheds 15% of its workforce

Virginia Carson
January 27, 2019

Based in New York, BuzzFeed is best known for its viral posts and quizzes and has a well-regarded news division.

However, some questioned if Peretti was really focusing on the right type of content or just pivoting to softer news, with the journalists cut credited for major stories on Trump's administration, Russia's involvement in the USA election and LGBTQI issues. By doing so, the larger media entity would then be able to lobby for a higher percentage of the ad dollars Facebook and Google share with publishers when their content runs on those platforms.

In a note sent to staff on Wednesday afternoon in the US, Peretti said the business would commence "layoffs" from next week.

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This week, Peretti said revenue growth was not enough for long term success. "These changes will allow us to be the clear victor in the market as the economics of digital media continue to improve".

Later, it launched a news unit that that, despite being a financial drag on the company, has built a strong reputation and was a finalist for a Pulitzer prize a year ago. The sources also revealed that BuzzFeed raised over US$500 million in its latest funding.

Buzzfeed was criticized by the president last week as well after the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller said a story on Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen and the Russian Federation investigation was not accurate.

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Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed's founder, said about 200 staff would be leaving, while in a separate announcement Verizon Media Group - the owner of HuffPost, Yahoo, and AOL - said it would sack about 800 employees. The new CEO of Verizon's media division, Guru Gowrappan, informed employees of the layoffs in an email Wednesday.

Newspaper companies have also suffered deep cutbacks, with staffs almost cut in half since 2004.

"This will be a tough week for all of us and I realize it will be much worse for the people losing their jobs", Peretti wrote in the memo.

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