BuzzFeed News Editor in Chief Is Stepping Down as Company Trims Workforce

BuzzFeed Inc., in its first earnings report as a public company, said it expected revenue to decline in the current quarter and announced staff cuts, as the top two leaders of its news division resigned.

BuzzFeed founder and Chief Executive

Jonah Peretti

said on an earnings call Tuesday that the company was looking to boost profitability at its news division by reducing head count and giving priority to “coverage of the biggest news of the day, culture and entertainment, celebrity and life on the internet.”

BuzzFeed News Editor in Chief

Mark Schoofs

said in a note to staff that he was leaving the company, as was his deputy,

Tom Namako.

Mr. Namako in a tweet said he was joining Comcast Corp.’s NBC News Digital as executive editor.

“The company has subsidized BuzzFeed News for many years,” Mr. Schoofs said in his note, adding that the next phase for the news division is to accelerate its timeline to profitability and undergo a strategic shift. “That will require BuzzFeed News to once again shrink in size.” He said the company was looking to reduce head count through voluntary buyouts, not layoffs.

BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti speaking to his team on listing day in December in New York City.



Photo:

Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images

A BuzzFeed spokesman said that on top of the buyouts at its news division, the company is cutting approximately 25 jobs elsewhere, or 1.7% of BuzzFeed’s overall workforce.

BuzzFeed, which beyond its namesake site houses the Tasty, Complex and HuffPost brands, said it expected a low-single-digit percentage decline in first-quarter revenue compared with a year earlier as its audiences spend less time on

Meta Platforms Inc.’s

Facebook. It also said advertising spending from customers including retailers and consumer-goods companies is off to a slower start this quarter.

The prospect of declining revenue comes after BuzzFeed last year said it expected sales to rise about 25% annually through 2024. For all of 2021, BuzzFeed posted revenue of $397.5 million, up 24% from 2020.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 18% to $145.7 million, and net profit grew 25% to $40.4 million, boosted by a $21.4 million tax benefit.

BuzzFeed’s stock rose 6.5% on Tuesday. Shares are down by nearly half since their first day of trading in early December, after BuzzFeed merged with a special-purpose acquisition company.

BuzzFeed in June announced plans to go public by merging with

890 5th Avenue Partners Inc.,

a SPAC. The deal gave Mr. Peretti voting control of the company and cash to fuel additional deal making.

BuzzFeed News is set to undergo a strategic shift.



Photo:

Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg News

BuzzFeed said the largest part of its fourth-quarter revenue came from advertising, which accounted for $69.1 million, a 24% rise from a year earlier. The fastest-growing segment was content revenue, which the company describes as payments it gets from clients for products such as branded quizzes and sponsored content. The segment, which also includes revenue from film and TV projects, brought in $59.9 million, up 33% from a year earlier.

BuzzFeed’s e-commerce business, which generates revenue by recommending and selling products online, declined 26% to $16.7 million. The company last year had warned that slowing commerce growth would continue in the fourth quarter, as a jump in online shopping during the pandemic lets up and commerce partners grapple with labor shortages and global supply-chain challenges.

Write to Alexandra Bruell at [email protected]

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Appeared in the March 23, 2022, print edition as ‘BuzzFeed News Leaders Step Down as It Trims Jobs.’

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