BuzzFeed debuts on the Nasdaq

Fifteen years after its launch digital media company BuzzFeed finally went public on Monday trading on the US tech exchange platform the Nasdaq.

The move follows a busy year for the company in which they acquired the Huffington Post in January and have then bought youth focused publisher Complex Networks from Hearst Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc.

The route to going public has however not been a straightforward one.

The company had initially chosen to go public via a SPAC which saw it merge with a blank-check company, 890 5th Avenue Partners Inc. At the time of going public though only $16 million of the originally intended fund of  $288 million had been raised as many of the latter’s business investors chose not to participate in the transaction.

After a few hours of trading BuzzFeed’s shares were down 11% at $8.56

BuzzFeed’s founder and CEO Jaques Peretti said that the pulling out of the transaction by the investors was no big deal. It “won’t meaningfully change our strategy,” he said, noting that BuzzFeed will still have money raised from a $150 million convertible note that’s part of the transaction. As a public company, BuzzFeed can also use its stock as a currency to buy other businesses. 

Peretti added  BuzzFeed would almost certainly have issued an IPO if the Covid-19 pandemic hadn’t disrupted its business, calling the SPAC “a means to an end.”

The last few years have been tumultuous ones for the company. As recently as seven years ago, BuzzFeed along with a cohort of digital contemporaries including Vice Media, Vox Media, Mic and others were proving so popular that mainstream companies like The New York Times and The Guardian were contemplating adopting their business approach. Changes in social media, and the re-calibration of online monetisation strategies, have seen their audiences dwindle and revenues fall.

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