Buzzfeed News is shutting down, and journalists took to social media last night to mourn its loss.
Started 12 years ago, the news division of media company Buzzfeed has won a Pulitzer Prize and a George Polk Award. A by Buzzfeed CEO and cofounder Jonah Peretti confirmed that the company will slash about 15 percent of its workforce – about 180 people of its current staff of 1,200. In December last year, the company had also announced a layoff of 12 percent of its staff.
Now, Buzzfeed Inc will have only one remaining news brand, HuffPost. Peretti blamed the decision on “a fading SPAC market that yielded less capital, a tech recession, a tough economy, a declining stock market, a decelerating digital advertising market, and ongoing audience and platform shifts”.
He also said he had “made the decision to overinvest” in the news division, without recognising that they did not have the financial support needed to sustain the operations.
Founded in 2006, Buzzfeed boasted strong backing by venture capital money and had also been planning an initial public offering, worth about $1.5 billion at one point. In 2021, it went public by merging with a SPAC, a blank-check company. This led to the withdrawal of investments by a significant chunk of investors.
Initially popular for listicles and online quizzes, Buzzfeed had eventually become a serious contender in the news space. It won a Pulitzer Prize for its reports on Chinese detention camps for Muslims in Xinjiang. However, in its spade of experiments, the company’s news unit had recently begun to churn out AI-generated articles.
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