BuzzFeed Announces Mass Layoffs to Put Company on a ‘Firm Foundation’

The move is necessary to 'achieve the right cost structure,' the CEO said

BuzzFeed started in 2006 during the big digital media boom. Buzzfeed
Headshot of Sara Jerde

BuzzFeed will lay off 15 percent of its workforce next week as it looks to reduce costs and work toward a sustainable cost structure, CEO Jonah Peretti told staffers in an email last night.

Peretti said executives had looked to see where the company could “consolidate” teams and focus on what content to “achieve the right cost structure.” It wasn’t clear where the layoffs would come from within BuzzFeed or BuzzFeed News, which was spun off onto a different site in July.

“We are confident the changes we are making will put us on a firm foundation and allow us to invest and grow sustainably for years to come,” he said.

BuzzFeed started in 2006 during the big digital media boom and was known for integrating seamless branded content onto the site. It held off on banner ads, but added them to its offerings in 2017.

That same year, BuzzFeed went through a sizable round of layoffs after reportedly missing its revenue target of about $350 million.

In August, BuzzFeed’s CRO talked with Adweek about having a “solid bounce-back” year after embracing programmatic and developing more partnerships with brands.

Despite a double-digit growth this year, Peretti said, the cuts were necessary to improve “the operating model.”

“Even though I’m confident this is the right business decision, it is upsetting and disappointing,” Peretti continued in the note.

While still offers a range of quizzes, the company has ramped up publishing original reporting, from an in-depth report on R. Kelly abusing young women to an investigative series on Russia, which was named as a finalist for a Pulitzer.

Most recently, BuzzFeed News’ latest bombshell report that Trump instructed his lawyer, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress, raised eyebrows over its accuracy. The news organization has stood by its reporting.

A spokeswoman for NBCUniversal, which has a $400 million investment in BuzzFeed and whose sales team works with the digital media publisher, declined to comment.

It’s a tough week for media, as Verizon Media Group (formerly Oath) laid off about 7 percent of its staff (about 800 employees) and Gannett laid off employees in newsrooms throughout the country.

@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.
Publish date: January 24, 2019 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT