Buzzfeed’s founders report that the Internet news juggernaut has been profitable since 2013. That makes the last nine years sound like lean times for this popular news organization. But a review of their current assets sounds anything but: 900 employees, 10 bureaus around the world, and 200 million unique visitors each month. Times are good for new media developers.
In fact, a variety of new media companies are attracting interest from investors with big money. Online publisher Vox Media, a BuzzFeed competitor, owns the websites Curbed, Eater, and the Verge, and it recently won the support of General Atlantic, which invested $46.8 million.
BuzzFeed works hard to maintain a steady revenue stream. Much of their income comes from BuzzFeed Advertise, a division focused on creating “listicle” advertising and custom branded videos.
Native advertising is a popular strategy with media companies interested in monetizing content for audiences with a taste for viral content. “The opportunities that I think will build the biggest companies over time…are likely to be more native-ad driven,” observed Anton Levy, managing director of General Atlantic, in The Wall Street Journal.
BuzzFeed is a leader in new media, but they’re not the first publisher to experiment with innovative content strategy. In the 1920s Time magazine offered readers 400-word summaries of complex national and international events while their competitors continued offering long, in-depth articles. During the 1980s cable television began to compete with traditional television news media. USA Today innovated print media by featuring short news articles with big photos and large, colorful graphics. It became the best selling newspaper in the United States.
“We think of BuzzFeed as more of a technology company. They embrace Internet culture. Everything is first optimized for mobile and social channels,” said Chris Dixon, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, who will join BuzzFeed’s board.
Time, CNN, and USA Today were the precursors to Buzzfeed. Innovators always create controversy and these startups received their share of criticism, frequently from their mainstream competitors who questioned the quality of their content. Well, the competition is over. If you haven’t noticed, Buzzfeed won.