|Headquarters||Anaheim, California, United States|
Peggy Wang, Senior Editor
Ze Frank, Executive Vice President
Jason Kottke, Advisor
|Employees||770 (October 2014)|
|Slogan(s)||"The Media Company for the Social Age"|
|Alexa rank||97 (December 2014[update])|
|Type of site||News & Entertainment|
|Available in||English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese|
BuzzFeed is an American internet news media company. It describes itself as the "social news and entertainment company . . . redefining online advertising with its social, content-driven publishing technology . . . provides the most shareable breaking news." BuzzFeed was founded in 2006 in New York City as a viral lab by Jonah Peretti, the company has grown into a global media and technology company providing coverage on a variety of topics including politics, DIY, animals and business. In late 2011, Ben Smith of Politico was hired as Editor-in-Chief, in a move to expand the site into serious journalism, long-form and reportage while maintaining its popular fun and entertainment-oriented content.
In August 2014, BuzzFeed raised $50 million from the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, more than doubling previous rounds of funding. The site was reportedly valued at around $850 million by Andreessen Horowitz. BuzzFeed generates its advertising revenue through native advertising that matches its own editorial content, and does not rely on banner ads.
BuzzFeed's first acquisition was in 2012 when the company purchased Kingfish Labs, a startup initially focused on optimizing Facebook ads.
On October 28, 2014, BuzzFeed announced its next acquisition, taking hold of Torando Labs. The Torando team was to become BuzzFeed's first data engineering team.
BuzzFeed produces daily content, in which the work of staff reporters, contributors, syndicated cartoon artists, and its community are featured. Popular formats on the website include lists and quizzes. Whereas BuzzFeed was initially focused exclusively on such viral content, according to the New York Times "it added more traditional content, building a track record for delivering breaking news and deeply reported articles" in the years up to 2014. In that year, BuzzFeed deleted over 4000 early posts, "apparently because, as time passed, they looked stupider and stupider", as observed by The New Yorker.
The site’s content is divided into 28 sections: News, Buzz, Life, Entertainment, Quizzes, Videos, Animals, Beauty, Books, Business, Big Stories, Celebrity, DIY, Food, Geeky, Gif Feed, Ideas, LGBT, Music, Parents, Politics, Rewind, Sports, Style, Tech, Travel, Weekend, and World.
BuzzFeed Video produces original content, and its production studio and team is based in Los Angeles. Since hiring Ze Frank in 2012, BuzzFeed Video has produced shows including "The Creep Series" and "Fun Facts." In August 2014, the company announced a new division, BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, which may produce feature-length films. As of July 27, 2015, BuzzFeed Video's YouTube had garnered over 3.6 billion views and more than 6.9 million subscribers.
BuzzFeed also has many other channels other than "BuzzFeedVideo" on YouTube that dedicate content to specific categories, like "BuzzFeedBlue", "BuzzFeedYellow", and "BuzzFeedCentral". For example, BuzzFeedYellow has "fun, inspiring, interesting videos from the BuzzFeed crew", while BuzzFeedViolet has "Short, relatable videos that are totally you" and is "the good kind of awkward."
On July 17, 2012, humor website McSweeney's Internet Tendency published a satirical piece entitled "Suggested BuzzFeed Articles", prompting BuzzFeed to create many of the suggestions. BuzzFeed listed McSweeney's as a "Community Contributor." The post subsequently received more than 350,000 page views, prompted BuzzFeed to ask for user submissions and received media attention. Subsequently, the website launched the "Community" section in May 2013 to enable users to submit content. Users are initially limited to publishing only one post per day, but can increase their submission capacity by raising their "Cat Power", described on the BuzzFeed website as "an official measure of your rank in BuzzFeed's Community." A user's Cat Power increases as they achieve greater prominence on the site.
The Trending section of BuzzFeed is denoted by a white zig-zagged arrow pointing upwards on a red button. This section includes the two tabs “Trending Now” and “Top Posts This Week”. In “Top Posts This Week”, tops posts are determined by the number of views a post has received during the past week.
BuzzFeed receives the majority of its traffic by creating content that is shared on social media websites. The site continues to test and track their custom content with an in-house team of data scientists and external-facing “social dashboard.” Staff writers are ranked by views on an internal leaderboard. In 2014, BuzzFeed received 75% of its views from links on social media outlets such as Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.
BuzzFeed has been accused of plagiarizing original content from competitors throughout the online and offline press. On June 28, 2012, Gawker's Adrian Chen posted a story titled "BuzzFeed and the Plagiarism Problem". On March 8, 2013, The Atlantic Wire also published an article concerning BuzzFeed and plagiarism.
BuzzFeed has been the subject of multiple copyright infringement lawsuits for both using content it had no rights to and encouraging its proliferation without attributing its sources: one for an individual photographer's photograph, and another for nine celebrity photographs from a single photography company.
In July 2014, BuzzFeed writer Benny Johnson was accused of multiple instances of plagiarism. Two anonymous Twitter users chronicled Johnson attributing work that was not his own. Johnson had "directly lift[ed] from other reporters, Wikipedia, and Yahoo! Answers," all without credit. BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith initially defended Johnson, calling him a "deeply original writer". Days later, Smith acknowledged that Johnson had plagiarized others' work 40 times, announced that Johnson had been fired, and apologized to BuzzFeed readers. "Plagiarism, much less copying unchecked facts from Wikipedia or other sources, is an act of disrespect to the reader," Smith said. "We are deeply embarrassed and sorry to have misled you." In total, 41 instances of plagiarism were found and corrected. Johnson, who had previously worked for the Mitt Romney 2008 Presidential campaign, was subsequently hired by the conservative magazine National Review as social media editor.
In October 2014, it was noted by the Pew Research Center that in the United States, BuzzFeed was viewed as an unreliable source by the majority of people, regardless of political affiliation. Other news outlets deemed more untrustworthy than trustworthy in the survey were The Rush Limbaugh Show, The Glenn Beck Program, Al Jazeera America and The Sean Hannity Show.
In April 2015, BuzzFeed drew scrutiny after Gawker observed the publication had deleted two posts that criticized advertisers. One of the posts criticized Dove soap (manufactured by Unilever), while another criticized Hasbro. Both companies advertise with BuzzFeed. Ben Smith apologized in a memo to staff for his actions. "I blew it," Smith wrote. "Twice in the past couple of months, I’ve asked editors — over their better judgment and without any respect to our standards or process — to delete recently published posts from the site. Both involved the same thing: my overreaction to questions we’ve been wrestling with about the place of personal opinion pieces on our site. I reacted impulsively when I saw the posts and I was wrong to do that. We've reinstated both with a brief note." Days later, one of the authors of the deleted posts, Arabelle Sicardi, resigned. An internal review by the company found three additional posts deleted for being critical of products or advertisements (by Microsoft, Pepsi, and Unilever).
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