BuzzFeed is shutting down its news operation, CEO Jonah Peretti told staff on Thursday.
An internal email obtained by The Independent informed staff of the decision to close the news division and cut its business, content, tech and admin teams by 15 per cent, affecting about 180 jobs.
“While layoffs are occurring across nearly every division, we’ve determined that the company can no longer continue to fund BuzzFeed News as a standalone organisation,” he told staff.
In the email, Mr Peretti said he had overinvested in BuzzFeed News “because I love their work and mission so much”.
“This made me slow to accept that the big platforms wouldn’t provide the distribution or financial support required to support premium, free journalism purpose-built for social media,” he wrote.
BuzzFeed would focus its news efforts on HuffPost, which it bought from Verizon in 2020, he added. Buzzfeed.com, the company’s flagship site, will remain in place.
The digital media company had been unable to ward off the impacts of the pandemic, a tech recession, a tough economy and a “decelerating advertising market”, he said.
“We’ve faced more challenges than I can count in the past few years.”
The digital media company was founded by Mr Peretti in 2006, and went public through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) in December 2021.
After the news broke at around 11am, BuzzFeed’s stock price plummeted by 16 per cent to 78 cents.
Mr Peretti admitted that the publicly listed company’s leadership team “could have performed better despite the challenges in the world”.
It’s understood that chief revenue officer Edgar Hernandez and chief operating officer Christian Baesler are leaving the company.
The firm has begun discussions with the NewsGuild, a journalist union, about compensation packages, he said. BuzzFeed News journalists may be offered jobs at BuzzFeed.com and HuffPost.
“What a ride, 8.5 years,” BuzzFeed journalist David Mack wrote on Twitter.
In 2021, the news site won a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for its coverage of China’s Xinjiang internment camps.
The tech industry has been rocked by a slowing economy, higher interest rates and global uncertainty this year.
According to Layoffs.fyi which tracks jobs losses the industry, nearly 170,000 workers have been fired so far in 2023.
Google, Amazon, Facebook’s parent company Meta, and Microsoft have announced thousands of job cuts as they try to trim costs.
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