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Buzzfeed Lays Off 16% After Complex Sale

BuzzFeed is the latest casualty in the ongoing media shakeup, with plans to reduce its workforce by 16 percent as part of a strategic restructuring effort led by CEO Jonah Peretti.

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In an internal memo to employees, Peretti acknowledged the challenges facing digital publishers in the current market, citing the need for agility and sustainability. He emphasized the importance of adapting to evolving advertiser and platform trends, signaling a shift away from a bundled portfolio approach towards a more brand-centric strategy.

The announcement comes on the heels of BuzzFeed's decision to sell Complex, a move aimed at generating revenue and streamlining operations. Under the deal, Complex will be acquired by the livestream shopping platform NTWRK for $108.6 million, with BuzzFeed retaining ownership of First We Feast.

This round of layoffs follows a similar downsizing last year, which saw BuzzFeed reduce its staff by 15 percent and consolidate its news content under HuffPost. The company is now restructuring its business lines, with BuzzFeed, HuffPost, First We Feast, and Tasty operating autonomously under individual strategies tailored to market dynamics.

While specific details of the restructuring plan will be revealed later this month, BuzzFeed expects annualized cost savings of $23 million. Peretti assured employees that certain divisions, including HuffPost, Tech, BuzzFeed Studios, Tasty, First We Feast, and International, will not be affected by the layoffs.

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The cash infusion from the Complex sale will be used to pay down debt and strengthen BuzzFeed's financial position. Peretti expressed optimism about the company's future, highlighting a renewed focus on iconic brands and innovative content formats powered by AI.

However, BuzzFeed's fourth-quarter revenue is projected to fall short of previous estimates, attributed in part to lower sponsorship revenues for ComplexCon and challenges in the digital advertising market. Chief Financial Officer Matt Omer emphasized the need for streamlining operations to better deliver on the company's value propositions for advertisers.

The layoffs at BuzzFeed are indicative of broader upheaval in the media industry, with numerous outlets experiencing labor strife and business model disruptions. As digital publishers grapple with shifting market dynamics, the path to sustainability remains uncertain, underscoring the need for continued adaptation and innovation.

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