BuzzFeed, known for such internet classics as “21 Surprising Facts Famous Celebs Wish You Didn’t Know About Them,” may have material for a new listicle after its very first earnings report as a public company on Tuesday: “1 Digital Media Company That Should Not Have Gone Public.”
After the company missed on revenue expectations, knives are out for BuzzFeed News, the prestige-chasing, loss-leading, hard news-driven, Pulitzer Prize-winning offshoot of the clickbait mothership. A trio of top editors are departing and several other journalists are being offered buyouts, as influential shareholders are pushing for the entire newsroom to shutter, according to CNBC.
Posting fourth-quarter revenue of $145.7 million and total earnings in 2021 at $308M, Buzzfeed whiffed on the expectations it floated while courting investors ahead of its disastrous SPAC merger in December, during which 94% of the money raised had been withdrawn.
Its stock price is down more than 40% since listing, now hovering around $5 a share, and antsy remaining investors are demanding blood. CEO Jonah Peretti is thus far mostly resisting the dramatic calls to action, and says he sees a light at the end of the tunnel:
- Peretti believes he can make the newsroom, which loses roughly $10M a year, profitable by focusing less on hard news — staffers being offered buyouts only include those working on investigations, inequality, politics or science — and more on culture, entertainment, celebrity, and life on the Internet. Additionally, BuzzFeed will trim 1.7% of staff, or 25 employees, elsewhere in the organization.
- The plan follows the template used after BuzzFeed purchased the Huffington Post in 2020, when 70 HuffPo staffers were let go as a way to, as Peretti put it “manage our costs and ensure BuzzFeed — and HuffPost — are set up to prosper long-term.”
Buzzkill: The New York Times reported late last year that Vice and Vox were considering IPOs, but both backed off after seeing the results of BuzzFeed’s.
Could Be Worse: Even with its financial hiccups, BuzzFeed’s market capitalization is nearly $200M more than Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain with 250 dailies.