Verizon Media and BuzzFeed announced on Thursday a new strategic partnership across content and advertising, which involves the acquisition of HuffPost by BuzzFeed in an all-stock deal and an investment that makes Verizon Media a minority shareholder in BuzzFeed.
As BuzzFeed’s press release states, the agreement brings HuffPost full circle, since BuzzFeed Co-Founder and CEO Jonah Peretti was also one of the founders – along with Andrew Breitbart, Arianna Huffington and Kenneth Lerer – of what was originally known as The Huffington Post.
“I have vivid memories of growing HuffPost into a major news outlet in its early years, but BuzzFeed is making this acquisition because we believe in the future of HuffPost and the potential it has to continue to define the media landscape for years to come,” Peretti said in a statement. “With the addition of HuffPost, our media network will have more users, spending significantly more time with our content than any of our peers.”
Peretti created Buzzfeed in his spare time while he was working at The Huffington Post.
AOL acquired The Huffington Post for US$315 million in March 2011. Verizon Communications bought AOL for US$4.4 billion and the site became a part of Verizon Media in June 2015. In January last year, 20 employees were laid off when Verizon Media cut back 7% of its workforce.
Also in January last year, Buzzfeed axed 15% of its global workforce – 220 workers – a little over a year after the digital media company cut about 100 employees.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, on 25 March, BuzzFeed wrote in an internal memo that it would cut employee salaries on a sliding scale of 5% (lowest income bracket) up to 25% (highest income bracket). Peretti said he would not be taking a salary until the end of the pandemic. On 13 May, Buzzfeed shut down its divisions in the UK and Australia.
“Verizon Media’s strategy has evolved over the past two years to focus on our core strengths – ads, commerce, content and subscriptions,” said Guru Gowrappan, Verizon Media CEO. “We’ve created a powerhouse ecosystem, built on a trusted network, that delivers an end-to-end experience for consumers and advertisers. The partnership with BuzzFeed complements our roadmap while also accelerating our transformation and growth.”
Email from BuzzFeed News EIC Mark Schoofs to staff about what the acquisition of HuffPost means for the two news orgs pic.twitter.com/JwW4XWyeMg
— Max Tani (@maxwelltani) November 19, 2020