BuzzFeed has announced the closure of its news division, BuzzFeed News, as part of cost-cutting measures that will see around 15% of the company’s jobs axed. The announcement was made by BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti in an internal memo to staff. BuzzFeed’s stock plummeted by more than 20% in response to the news. The decision to close BuzzFeed News was attributed to the unit’s lack of a sustainable financing model. The company will lay off nearly 180 employees, around 60 of whom worked in its news division.
Peretti cited the coronavirus pandemic, a depressed stock market and a recession in the tech sector as factors that had necessitated the layoffs. Affected employees will be given the opportunity to apply for jobs within the parent company. BuzzFeed will continue to operate the HuffPost brand, which has been subject to significant cuts in recent years, but unlike BuzzFeed News, boasts of sustained profitability due to its loyal readership.
The closure of BuzzFeed News highlights the challenges that online news outlets face. As The Guardian reported, Disney had considered purchasing BuzzFeed for an estimated $1 billion in 2014. Today, the company’s value has dropped to around $100 million. BuzzFeed News was established in 2012 and was honoured with a Pulitzer Prize in 2021 for a series of reports using satellite imagery to support China’s detention of Uighur Muslims.