The Next Chapter
Here’s my vision for how BuzzFeed will continue to grow as a company and shape the future of digital media
We’ve been busy the last 12 months. We navigated through a global pandemic, achieved profitability, bought HuffPost and soon we will acquire Complex Networks and become a public company. We’ve extended our lead as the defining digital media company for the next generation of media consumers. We bring together the leading brands in our space: BuzzFeed Entertainment, Complex Networks, HuffPost and BuzzFeed News, and Tasty Lifestyle Brands. Our audience spends 806 million minutes with us monthly across our properties, several times more than our competitors. We’ve created an “inspiration engine” that helps millions of people discover new things, try new experiences, and buy new products, driving well over a million dollars each day in direct transactions. And we’ve had an unprecedented impact on culture, fighting for a more inclusive society, holding powerful institutions accountable, and amplifying the voice of the most diverse generation of young people the world has ever seen.
We’ve worked hard and should be proud of what we’ve accomplished. We’ve brought together the key elements of a modern media company: financial discipline and profitability, iconic brands, massive engaged audiences, a world class technology platform, and diversified revenue streams. But all of this is just the foundation for our next stage of growth. The foundation we built is our launch pad for our future. Soon we’ll have a public stock and more resources to invest in growth. The world is opening up again as the pandemic comes to an end. And with over half a billion in projected revenue this year, we finally have the scale to influence how the larger media industry works and help shape a better model for the future.
We can now begin attacking three big opportunities:
1) Consolidate Digital Media
We just bought HuffPost and Complex and we’re building a platform for future acquisitions, with the goal of bringing together the very best digital media offerings. As a public company, we’ll have even more opportunity and public stock as a currency to help us pursue attractive acquisitions. Our approach will be to support and magnify the independent editorial voice of any media brand that joins us. We don’t buy other media brands because we want them to look, feel, and sound like BuzzFeed. We buy them because they are additive, they enrich our team with talented new creators, they expand the audiences we serve, and provide new ways of communicating and connecting. And we can provide these new brands with support to help them grow faster and expand their ambitions. We’ll accelerate these businesses by providing administrative support, powering new revenue lines, and increasing distribution across our larger network. We’ve spent years building our diversified revenue model, years building our technology platform, and countless hours extending our reach across multiple platforms. All of this work and learning will benefit the new media brands that join us, and of course we will also learn from the expertise and knowledge of the teams that join us. We are creating the platform where the most dynamic digital media companies and brands join forces, a model that will attract the best digital media founders and CEOs, the place where the visionaries in our industry come together to build the future of media.
2) Empower Creators
I feel very fortunate so many talented journalists, video creators, writers, and internet visionaries choose to work at BuzzFeed. I never take this work for granted and our entire leadership team is focused on building for the future of creative work. Over the next few years, we have the potential to pioneer new models to empower and sustain creative people, as full time employees, outside partners and collaborators, and members of our community. Digital creativity is the biggest force shaping our collective future. The big tech platforms don’t understand content creation or know how to support digital creativity. The traditional media companies don’t understand the internet and are struggling to adapt to changes in the creative process. BuzzFeed lives at the intersection of technology and creativity, we are perfectly positioned to empower the next generation of creators. Our collaborative culture, fellowship program, and creator program are just the beginning, we’ll build more here in the coming years.
3) Capture More Value
I love the way we inform, inspire, and entertain millions of people, the way we drive cultural trends and push society forward, the way we stand behind the content we create, and help our audience learn things and have new experiences. I wouldn’t want to work in any other industry, but it is sometimes frustrating that we only capture a small fraction of the value we create. Fortunately this is changing, digital media has become a good business, at least ours is, precisely because we are finding ways to capture more of the value we create. We are proving our value through contextually aligned advertising, licensing and premium content deals, and by driving direct commerce transactions. We are uniquely able to help consumers move down the path from discovery to inspiration to real world transactions. And we are expanding these new transactional media models to verticals like travel, personal finance, fashion, health, and more. This is just the beginning of what will be a multi-year transformation of our business to stronger attribution models and more transactional media experiences. As we begin to capture more value, we have growth potential that rivals the tech platforms and social media apps that have become some of the most valuable companies in the world.
These are the key areas where we will invest in the coming year and beyond. We are starting from a position of strength. BuzzFeed is the leading digital media company, a force creating the content that powers the internet and inspires millions of consumers to discover new things and try new experiences. For our next chapter, we’ll deliver massive growth by recruiting the most dynamic media brands to join us, empowering the next generation of digital creators, and inventing new ways to capture more of the value we create, pioneering new forms of contextual and transactional media. As a public company, we’ll run our business with increased rigor, we’ll have new investment to accelerate our growth, and our success will benefit employees, our shareholders, and our global audience. The coming years will be an epic adventure, an opportunity to have an unprecedented impact on the industry, the world, and people’s lives.
I’m excited to share this adventure with you and do career defining work together. Our best days are ahead of us. Your resiliency, creativity, and ingenuity made this all possible. Thank you for everything you do. Can’t wait for what’s next.