08 December 2022 |

Buzzfeed’s downfall: is their business model to blame?

By Adam Ryan

Buzzfeed is now worth $144M. Buzzfeed has Complex Networks, a Pulitizer-winning newsroom, and a household brand name. And they’re worth ⅓ of what Industry Dive sold for last summer. Morning Brew is probably worth at least $200M at this point. 

So what’s with the downfall?

Please see the Perpetual issue from 12/7/2021 (yes, roughly a year ago to the day). Please feel free to laugh at my use of web2… because, you know, 2021 and the web3 craze.

Buzzfeed lost its buzz. Jonah Peretti is on the Mount Rushmore of web2 media companies. If AOL was the cultural winner of web1, then BuzzFeed was the cultural winner of web2. BuzzFeed created viral content and brands like Tasty, which onboarded the world to short-form video (you’re welcome TikTok). I found this letter that Jonah wrote back in June to be quite intriguing and forward-thinking. The issue? BuzzFeed has a pretty shit business model that’s getting more outdated by the day. Can they turn it around? Maybe. How about their acquisitions? Makes me bearish. They’re following the ole’ path of acquiring crap assets for cash arbitrage. I do hope Jonah and the team can turn it around because they deserve it, but it’s hard to exit a game you created — even if you’re losing.

That shit business model hasn’t changed, and the economy has become scared of the “R” word, and ad budgets have pulled back in a big way. 

I feel for Jonah, but he’s the one to blame here. How about a group of us raise some cash and turn Buzzfeed around? Count me in.