BuzzFeed to Lay Off 180 People
They blamed “vertical video”
In yet another grim sign for digital media, BuzzFeed is downsizing, again — this time by laying off some 12 percent of its current workforce, or about 180 people. The news coincided with a drop in BuzzFeed’s stock price by more than six percent. At press time, $BZFD was trading at $1.07 a share, or roughly the price of one of those tiny Poland Spring water bottles they give you on the plane.
Axios’s Sara Fischer reported that the cuts will not impact BuzzFeed News, which went through drastic cuts via voluntary buyouts last spring, or Huffington Post, which lost 70 staffers the year before that. Per Fischer, the latest round will largely impact “sales, tech, studio production, BuzzFeed.com, and Complex Networks,” which the company acquired last year.
BuzzFeed announced the layoffs in an SEC regulatory filing Tuesday, accompanied by a memo from BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti to affected staff. The rationale, Peretti explained, was “worsening macroeconomic conditions,” costs of integrating Complex, and “the ongoing audience shift to vertical video.” It’s unclear what Peretti means by “vertical video” beyond videos shot for phones, though it may have something to do with BuzzFeed’s alleged rebrand as “news for Gen Z.” When asked, a source close to BuzzFeed said: “Your guess is good as mine but sounds like it.” Historically, pivots to video have always gone well.