Flush with cash, BuzzFeed looks to expand

BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti, in 2013. Brad Barket/Getty Images for WIRED

In media circles, this is what Internet "disruption" look like: a fat new investment in Buzzfeed.

The rapidly growing online media venture, known for its combination of news, "list of lists" reportage and other online diversions, said Monday it had raised $50 million in late-round financing from blue-chip venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

BuzzFeed says the funding will allow it to expand editorially, and "to make clear the differences between the three types of content" it offers. The company, formed in 2006, has now raised more than $96 million in venture money.

BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti said his company's growth is part of the ongoing, decade-long push by online media to upend the traditional news, video, entertainment and advertising sectors.

"We created BuzzFeed because people still want to be informed, entertained and inspired, but the way they consume media has dramatically shifted," he said in a statement. "Today we think the time is perfect to grow our company, build our brand and greatly increase the content we are producing so we can be the number one digital media brand. "

BuzzFeed is now dividing its BuzzFeed Editorial news group into three departments. Its news unit will "include everything from breaking news to a foreign desk," along with a team of international correspondents, according to the company. There's also BuzzFeed Life, which focuses on food, lifestyle and "do it yourself" subjects. The third unit, BuzzTeam, will explore web culture.

Then there's BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, which will work with a wide spectrum of video content, from seconds-long online clips to feature films. The company is also expanding abroad and this year plans to open bureaus in India, Mexico, Germany and Japan.

"BuzzFeed is a media company in the same sense that Tesla is a car company, Uber is a taxi company or Netflix is a streaming movie company," blogged Chris Dixon, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz who is joining BuzzFeed's board of directors, in seeking to highlight BuzzFeed's efforts to shake up the media industry.

"We believe we're in the 'deployment' phase of the Internet," he added. "The foundation has been laid. Tech is now spreading through every industry and every part of the world. The most interesting tech companies aren't trying to sell software to other companies. They are trying to reshape industries from top to bottom."

BuzzFeed, which has more than 200 editorial staff, claims an international audience of 150 million people, and is reportedly now worth $850 million, but there are some skeptics out there who wonder about the company's future.

"As Vice, the Huffington Post and others have shown us," blogged Chris Gayomali over at Fast Company, "when an exciting new media brands grow up -- when it's stops being 'new' -- the challenge then becomes not looking like the slow-moving media establishment you were originally created to subvert."

  • Bruce Kennedy

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