In 2008, BuzzFeed had just five employees working in an office in New York City’s Chinatown district, and its website was attracting just 700,000 unique visitors a month. Now the company has more than 900 employees, over 200 million monthly visitors, and seems poised to become the first major media company of the digital era.
The story of how BuzzFeed got from there to here arguably begins with this pitch deck to investors in 2008. It resurfaced today via Martin Nisenholtz, a former New York Times executive. Asked for comment, BuzzFeed noted that the deck has circulated before. Here is the full presentation, with some of our commentary.
“It wasn’t easy raising money in the early days of BuzzFeed,” Peretti recalled in an interview last year. ‘It was always, ‘Is there any way you can do this without having any writers or content creators or journalists? Can you make this automatic? Could you detect what was trending and then grab stuff from other places and turn it into an article synthetically where the cost of content creation would be zero?'”
BuzzFeed surpassed $100 million in revenue last year, and has taken funding from high-profile venture capital funds, including Andreessen Horowitz, at a valuation close to $1 billion. It reportedly walked away from talks with Disney about a potential takeover for a similar price.
The viral content company has been taking criticism in media circles this week, due to a perceived conflict of interest between its news and advertising operations. The next slide suggests this tension has been part of the BuzzFeed model since inception. It’s fascinating to see the company’s strategy—operating as both a media and advertising company—articulated so clearly early on.