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.
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