Lee will join BuzzFeed next month and will be in charge of the BuzzFeed Media Brands division, which includes recipe site Tasty, fashion’s Nifty, the beauty site As/Is, healthy food-focused Goodful, and millennial parents platform Playfull, the latter a joint venture with NBCUniversal.
BuzzFeed Media Brands was created in December following a massive restructuring of the company, a move which included more than 100 layoffs. President Greg Coleman was also moved into a new role. Several other divisions were created devoted to commerce and distribution partnerships.
CEO Jonah Peretti said in December that the company’s “business” unit “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.”
Departments affected by the December layoffs included sales, creative, client services, ad solutions and marketing. BuzzFeed’s total workforce is about 1,700 employees.
The December news was 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%.
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.