BuzzFeed is an American internet media company. It describes itself as the “social news and entertainment company … redefining online advertising with its social, content-driven publishing technology … provides the most shareable breaking news, original reporting, entertainment and video.”
BuzzFeed was founded in 2006 in New York City as a viral lab, focusing on tracking viral content, by Jonah Peretti and John S. Johnson III. Kenneth Lerer, co-founder and Chairman of The Huffington Post, started as a co-founder and investor in BuzzFeed and is now the Executive Chairman as well.
Prior to establishing BuzzFeed, Peretti experimented with contagious media as Director of R&D and the OpenLab at Eyebeam, Johnson’s New York City-based art and technology non-profit. The company has grown into a global media and technology company providing coverage on a variety of topics including politics, DIY, animals and business. In late 2011, Ben Smith of Politico was hired as Editor-in-Chief, in a move to expand the site into serious journalism, long-form and reportage while maintaining its popular fun and entertainment-oriented content.
In August 2014, BuzzFeed raised $50 million from the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, more than doubling previous rounds of funding. The site was reportedly valued at around $850 million by Andreessen Horowitz. BuzzFeed generates its advertising revenue through native advertising that matches its own editorial content, and does not rely on banner ads.
In August 2015, NBCUniversal made a $200 million equity investment in Buzzfeed. Along with plans to hire more journalists to build a more prominent “investigative” unit, BuzzFeed is hiring journalists around the world and plans to open outposts in India, Germany, Mexico, and Japan. In December 2014, growth equity firm General Atlantic acquired $50M in secondary stock of the company.
BuzzFeed’s first acquisition was in 2012 when the company purchased Kingfish Labs, a startup initially focused on optimizing Facebook ads. On October 28, 2014, BuzzFeed announced its next acquisition, taking hold of Torando Labs. The Torando team was to become BuzzFeed’s first data engineering team.
BuzzFeed produces daily content, in which the work of staff reporters, contributors, syndicated cartoon artists, and its community are featured. Popular formats on the website include lists, videos, and quizzes. Whereas BuzzFeed was initially focused exclusively on such viral content, according to the New York Times “it added more traditional content, building a track record for delivering breaking news and deeply reported articles” in the years up to 2014. In that year, BuzzFeed deleted over 4000 early posts, “apparently because, as time passed, they looked stupider and stupider”, as observed by The New Yorker.
The site’s content is divided into 28 sections: News, Buzz, Life, Entertainment, Quizzes, Videos, Animals, Beauty, Books, Business, Big Stories, Celebrity, DIY, Food, Geeky, Gif Feed, Ideas, LGBT, Music, Parents, Politics, Rewind, Sports, Style, Tech, Travel, Weekend, and World.
Buzzfeed’s website is also available in 10 different editions including US, UK, Australia, Brasil, Canada, Germany, Español, France, India and México.
BuzzFeed consistently ranked at the top of NewsWhip’s “Facebook Publisher Rankings” from December 2013 to April 2014, until The Huffington Post entered the position.