28 February 2024

Buzzfeed Shifts Its Strategy

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The Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz comes up with a 50 million new reasons, in the form of a new $50 million investment in the list-happy, why Buzzfeed is a viral content-loving website. The impressive new investment and the company's expansion plans mark another important benchmark in BuzzFeed's unlikely evolution into major Internet player.

Along with news of all of that new money, BuzzFeed announced plans for beefing up and broadening the enterprise. First, BuzzFeed will separate its editorial operations into three units — one for news, one for lifestyle and one for the Web culture explorations that have given it its ineffable identity. Widely known for its extensive array of video, BuzzFeed is renaming its video operation BuzzFeed Motion Pictures.

It's establishing a division to make off-site content for such venues as Instagram and Tumblr. It's launching BuzzFeeds in Mumbai, Mexico City, Berlin and Tokyo. And it plans to start up and acquire new companies. New York City-based BuzzFeed, which launched in 2006, hardly started out as a likely destination for serious journalism. It made its name as the go-to place for irresistible linkbait, Internet memes and wacky animal pictures. It anticipated and spurred an era in which so much content attracts so much of its audience, thanks to sharing.

Its evolution into a news outlet, which began when it hired Ben Smith away from Politico in December 2011 to launch a national political reporting team, makes it in my view one of the more intriguing websites out there. After that foray into politics, BuzzFeed has added investigative reporting, business news, long-form journalism and foreign reporting to its repertoire.

Foreign reporting will be a major beneficiary of the new venture-capital largess; Smith plans to establish outposts in, among other places, Mexico City, China and India. Given the enormous cutback by traditional media in overseas reporting in the past decade, it's exciting to see a new-media player helping pick up the slack.

When Smith left Politico in late 2011 to catapult BuzzFeed into the journalism business, no doubt there were many people who thought he had lost his mind. Smith, who also worked for New York's Daily News, says he was confident he could put together a competitive political operation.

Although, Smith didn't expect the site to be as financially successful as it has been and to have so many resources at his disposal. Venture capitalist Dixon says BuzzFeed, which attracts 150 million unique visitors a month, has been consistently profitable and will generate triple-digit millions in revenues this year.

Click here to access the full article on USA Today.

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