The cuts will affect 47 employees in the U.S., while HuffPost Canada is closing and HuffPost Australia will be moving away from local coverage, according to a BuzzFeed spokesperson. They also will look at proposals to slim down operations in Australia and the UK.
Hillary Frey, executive editor of HuffPost, and Louise Roug, executive editor for international, will depart the company after the transition. They also are in the final interview stage in their search for a new editor in chief, with an announcement expected in the coming weeks. The cutbacks will leave HuffPost with about 140 employees in the U.S.
BuzzFeed announced in November that it was acquiring HuffPost in what was described as a strategic partnership with Verizon Media, the previous owner. Under the deal, Verizon Media became a minority shareholder and they agreed to syndicate each other’s content across platforms, while BuzzFeed and HuffPost would remain distinct news operations.
Jonah Peretti, founder and CEO of BuzzFeed, told employees that HuffPost’s losses exceeded $20 million last year, and “would be similar this year without intervention.”
“Though BuzzFeed is a profitable company, we don’t have the resources to support another two years of losses,” he said.
He said that the goal is for HuffPost to break even this year, but it will take the restructuring. The spokesperson for BuzzFeed said that BuzzFeed’s business organization will manage the efforts.
“When BuzzFeed was losing too much money, we adjusted our strategy and our size,” Peretti said. “We focused on diversifying our revenue streams, reducing our costs, and getting to profitability. It was difficult, painful work, but now we have a stronger business than ever before. We want HuffPost to be in the same position of strength and we will apply all that we’ve learned and built to get there.”
He said that they wanted HuffPost to have a brand identity distinct from BuzzFeed and its brands BuzzFeed News and Tasty. He also said that they “want to ensure the [HuffPost] homepage remains a top destination on the internet. We also want to maintain high traffic, preserve your most powerful journalism, lean more deeply into politics and breaking news, and build a stronger business for affiliate revenue and shopping content.”
Peretti said that Frey and Roug put themselves on the list of people to be impacted as they discussed the need to find savings.
The laid off union employees in the U.S. will get a severance that follows the collective bargaining agreement. For other employees, they will follow the guidelines for Verizon’s separation package and whatever contracts they have in place. They also will be giving adjusted bonuses to those employees for the time they worked in 2021.