BuzzFeed, long the poster child for pure-digital growth, is shedding 100 jobs in a significant restructuring, and president Greg Coleman is transitioning into a new, unspecified role.
The layoffs, confirmed in a staff memo from CEO Jonah Peretti, will affect mainly the company’s “business” unit. The group “was built to support direct sold advertising but will need to bring in different, more diverse expertise,” Peretti wrote. “As our strategy evolves, we need to evolve our organization too.”
Other departments affected by the cuts include sales, creative, client services, ad solutions and marketing. BuzzFeed’s total workforce is about 1,700 employees.
The news is a splash of cold water but not a complete surprise, given an earlier report in the Wall Street Journal that BuzzFeed was set to miss its annual revenue targets by an alarming 15%-20%.
The narrative around digital media companies has taken a downturn lately. Mashable, another former highflier, which earlier this month was sold to Ziff-Davis for a reported $50 million, a fraction of the hundreds of millions it had sought.
With its listicles, quizzes and clickable fare, blended with an increasing original video offering and serious enterprise reporting, BuzzFeed was considered to be a digital brand capable of surmounting many of headwinds hitting other sites. The company’s fast start drew investments from the traditional-media likes of NBCUniversal.
In recent months, though, the digital advertising climate has become more volatile. The marketplace, which has been dominated by Facebook and Google, also has been beset by “brand safety” issues, with many blue-chip advertisers wary of having their ads placed via automated processes next to objectionable content.