BuzzFeed to reduce staff by 16% in major cost-cutting move

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BuzzFeed on Wednesday said it is reducing its workforce by 16% in a significant move to cut costs. The online media company also announced the sale of youth-oriented publisher Complex for $108.6 million to L.A.-based live shopping platform NTWRK.

The cuts come amid broader turmoil in the media and entertainment industries as companies look to slash costs and streamline their businesses.

In a memo to employees, BuzzFeed Chief Executive Jonah Peretti said that roles in the company’s business and administrative teams would be affected by the reduction, while groups such as HuffPost, Tech, BuzzFeed Studios, Tasty and First We Feast would not see cuts.

“The changes we announced today will enable an exciting next stage for our company, with increased focus on our iconic brands — BuzzFeed, HuffPost, First We Feast and Hot Ones, and Tasty; a more efficient cost structure and operational model; and the ability to accelerate innovation powered by AI and interactive content formats,” Peretti said in a statement.

BuzzFeed’s stock price closed at 22 cents on the Nasdaq, a fraction of its value when it started trading publicly in December 2021 at $10.95 a share. The stock is in danger of being delisted by the Nasdaq because its share price was below $1 for at least 30 consecutive days. It has until May to regain compliance.

The shares doubled in value to 44 cents in after-hours trading following Peretti’s announcement.

“It’s a dark day for BuzzFeed and I think it’s just another head-scratching chapter in their history where there was so much optimism a few years ago about what BuzzFeed was going to do,” said Daniel Ives, a managing director at Wedbush Securities.

BuzzFeed said that though it was selling Complex, it would keep First We Feast, which was part of its original $300-million acquisition of Complex announced in 2021.

“The sale of Complex represents an important strategic step for BuzzFeed, Inc. as we adapt our business to be more profitable, more nimble, and more innovative,” Peretti said.

BuzzFeed, which debuted in 2006, was a social media sensation in its heyday, known for its listicles, quizzes and funny videos that went viral online. The company later expanded into news, winning the Pulitzer Prize in international reporting in 2021. But BuzzFeed, like other media outlets, struggled as digital advertising was dominated by Facebook and Google and publishers had to deal with changes to platform algorithms.

Last year, BuzzFeed shut down its News division.

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