BuzzFeed is shutting down its award-winning news department as part of a workforce reduction across a number of teams.
Several news outlets, including The Guardian and NBC News, have reported that founder Jonah Peretti told staff on Thursday “the company can no longer continue to fund BuzzFeed News” and would be looking to make substantial redundancies.
Peretti said BuzzFeed had been hit by the pandemic, a troubled stock market listing, a tough economy, a declining stock market, a slowdown in digital advertising and changing audience habits.
“I made the decision to overinvest in BuzzFeed News because I love their work and mission so much,” he wrote in an email to staff. “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.”
In addition to closing BuzzFeed News, Peretti said there would be job cuts across the rest of the business totalling around 180 redundancies – about 15% of the company’s workforce.
Peretti added that he regretted not holding the company to “higher standards for profitability” and said he “exhausted many other cost-saving measures to preserve as many jobs as possible” including cutting costs and closing offices.
The closure of BuzzFeed News leaves the company with one lone news brand, HuffPost, which BuzzFeed acquired in 2020. BuzzFeed News launched in earnest in 2012 and nine years later won a Pulitzer Prize for a series exposing China’s mass detention of Muslims.
According to Press Gazette, Buzzfeed’s share price plummeted more than 20% after Peretti’s announcement, leaving it with a market capitalisation of around $100million. At its peak, in 2016, Buzzfeed boasted a private market valuation of $1.7billion.