So, BuzzFeed executives are talking about making the company’s news division profitable. And they’re pivoting part of its business after realizing it was too reliant on Facebook to drive traffic. No, you didn’t just wake up in 2018. BuzzFeed executives are really saying the same things they were saying four years ago about some of the key challenges facing the company.
It’s extraordinary that BuzzFeed hasn’t made more progress in that time on those issues. Consider that in 2018, when founder-CEO Jonah Peretti told The Information that BuzzFeed News was “on track” to become profitable, the news unit had 250 employees. Today, after earlier rounds of cuts, it has about 100, as The Verge’s Peter Kafka pointed out, and it plans to eliminate close to 30 jobs through buyouts. BuzzFeed wants the news operation to turn profitable next year, a top departing editor told staff today. Instead of being a vanguard of the digital age, BuzzFeed News is looking more like one of those aging newspapers that has to keep cutting employees as it tries to keep up with declining ad revenues.