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BuzzFeed

Shaking up media across the globe

Sector: Futuremedia
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The digital media powerhouse, read by over 200 million people every month, was declared the world's most innovative company in 2016.

BuzzFeed is a New York-based, international news and entertainment company that attracts over 200 million monthly unique visitors monthly.  It describes itself as the “social news and entertainment company … redefining online advertising with its social, content-driven publishing technology … providing the most shareable breaking news, original reporting, entertainment, and video.”

BuzzFeed was founded in 2006  as a viral lab, focusing on tracking viral content, by Jonah Peretti, John Johnson and Ken Lerer (co-founder of the Huffington Post). Peretti had previously experimented with contagious media as Director of R&D and the OpenLab at  Eyebeam, Johnson’s New York-based art and technology non-profit.

The company has grown into a global media and technology company providing coverage on a variety of topics including politics, lifestyle and business. In late 2011, Ben Smith was hired as Editor-in-Chief, in a move to expand the site into serious journalism, longform and reportage while maintaining its popular fun and entertainment-oriented content.

In 2016, Fast Company named BuzzFeed the world’s most innovative company.

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BuzzFeed’s reputation for innovation is based on its highly shareable news posts, quizzes, and its signature “listicles,” BuzzFeed has grown to include 11 editions – from Australia to Mexico – and has raised $300 million in capital as of January 2016. But while it continues to dazzle the world with cat GIFs and funny lists, BuzzFeed has also transferred its specific brand of virality to deep political coverage, personal and critical essays, and breaking and in-depth global news. To accomplish that pivot, BuzzFeed has thrown its weight behind social media, which delivers 75% of its traffic. In 2015, it launched on Snapchat Discover, which now garners 21% of its traffic–nearly a third of its total readership. And the brand has a growing presence in video, too (a “S’mores Dip” tutorial in 2015 snagged 123 million views on Facebook). With an almost protean ability to reinvent itself and plenty of outside investment (most recently, an infusion of $200 million from NBC Universal in 2015), BuzzFeed will look to continue evolving as it scales, potentially pursuing an IPO.

The company’s competitive advantage:

  • Massive reader base
  • High brand recognition
  • An infusion of capital, including a $200 million round in 2015 from NBC Universal

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