Buzzfeed News shuts down as media company cuts jobs

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  • Written by Natalie Sherman
  • Business Reporter, New York

image source, Getty Images

CEO Jonah Peretti said Buzzfeed will shut down its news site and cut its workforce by 15%.

It comes as the digital media company faces serious financial challenges, including declining advertising spending.

Peretti called the decisions “extremely painful,” and said he could not invest more in the unprofitable news site.

He said the company will focus on delivering news via HuffPost, which was acquired by Buzzfeed two years ago.

“Our industry is battered and ready for rebirth,” he said in a note to employees. “We are taking great pains today, and we will begin to make our way to a bright future.”

Founded in 2006, Buzzfeed was once one of the trendiest names in online media, known for its contests and viral content, as well as its serious news run.

But the company, which employed more than 1,300 people globally at the end of last year, stayed away from the news as it became more difficult to bring in ad revenue and audiences and other business lines, such as producing personalized content, grew faster.

It was listed on the stock exchange in 2024, but it raised far less money than it had hoped.

“While layoffs occur in nearly every department, we have determined that the company can no longer continue to fund BuzzFeed News as a stand-alone organization,” Peretti wrote to employees.

Many other companies that rely on advertising, including media companies and tech giants like owner Facebook Meta, have cut jobs in recent months, while investors have been forced to reassess the values ​​of emerging news ventures like Vice News and Vox Media. News firm Insider also revealed plans Thursday to cut its workforce by 10%, or about 95 jobs.

Peretti said his company, which would go on to operate HuffPost, its food brand Tasty, Complex Networks, and its namesake website, faced greater challenges, but he also blamed himself.

He said he was “slow to accept” the difficulties of making money from online news as big tech platforms dominate distribution. He added that the company should have generated more revenue after acquiring Complex in 2024, which operates the music site Complex and other brands.

“I could have managed these changes better as the CEO of this company and our leadership team could have done better despite the circumstances.” He said.

In her private memo to employees, parts of which she shared on social media, Buzzfeed News Editor-in-Chief Karolina Wachlawick said the company should have tried to build a company around its news site earlier, calling the closure “avoidable.”

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She said the failure was indicative of a broader crisis in journalism and she fears the consequences if only subscription-based news models survive.

“The implication is that only people who can afford to pay for it will have access to high-quality information while others will need to analyze the rampant misinformation circulating widely across social platforms,” ​​she wrote. “The consequences of that are dire.”

Buzzfeed has already announced several rounds of layoffs in recent years, including one in December that affected roughly 170 people or 12% of the staff.

The latest cuts include about 180 jobs. Buzzfeed said it expects to incur $7m (£5.6m) – $11m (£8.8m) in severance pay and other fees associated with the move.

The company said some of its news staff may find roles in other parts of the company.

Shares fell 20% on Thursday on the news, slashing Buzzfeed’s market value to around $100m (£80m) – reportedly a fraction of the more than $1.5bn (£1.2bn) investors were discussing before Only two years.