BuzzFeed, Inc. is an Internet media company based in New York City. The firm is a social news and entertainment company with a focus on digital media. BuzzFeed was founded in 2006 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.
Originally known for online quizzes, “listicles”, and pop culture articles, 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 the beginning, BuzzFeed employed no writers or editors, just an “algorithm to cull stories from around the web that were showing stirrings of virality.” The site initially launched an instant messaging client, BuzzBot, which messaged users a link to popular content. The messages were sent based on algorithms which examined the links that were being quickly disseminated, scouring through the feeds of hundreds of blogs that were aggregating them. Later, the site began spotlighting the most popular links that BuzzBot found. Peretti hired curators to help describe the content that was popular around the web. In late 2011, Ben Smith of Politico was hired as editor-in-chief to expand the site into serious journalism, long-form journalism, and reportage.
In 2016, BuzzFeed formally separated its news and entertainment content into BuzzFeed News and the newly formed BuzzFeed Entertainment Group, which also includes BuzzFeed Motion Pictures. As of 2016, BuzzFeed had correspondents from 12 countries, and foreign editions in Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom, By the end of 2017, BuzzFeed employed around 1,700 employees worldwide.
In August 2014, BuzzFeed raised $50 million from the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz1, 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. BuzzFeed also uses its familiarity with social media to target conventional advertising through other channels, such as Facebook.
In December 2014, growth equity firm General Atlantic acquired $50M in secondary stock of the company.
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.