Buzzfeed is Planning to Go Public in 2018: I’m Definitely Not a Buyer Yet

Buzzfeed is Planning to Go Public in 2018: I’m Definitely Not a Buyer Yet

Considering I’ve been in the website business since 2007 and have seen just about everything you could possibly see in the rise of digital properties, I guess you could say I’m “proud” of this news.  While it would be much cooler to say that Uncoached Corp (the parent company of this site) is going public, I’m pretty impressed that Buzzfeed is going public.  The company launched way back in 2006 and became famous for its “list” format populating it’s pages with “20 Things you didn’t Know about…..” content.   It’s public offering effectively means that investors are finally beginning to see real value in digital properties.

After it’s start rooted in cat content, Buzz Feed eventually became dominant on social media, began publishing video, hired more staff, and kept expanding to the point where it’s one of the most dominant digital destinations online.  My only concern as someone in this business is their numbers.  Making money off of a website is incredibly difficult when you have a big staff.  Margins are paper thin and 90% of the time you’re continuing expansion to boost up your valuation for an eventual sale even though you were never technically profitable.

I would need to see Buzzfeed’s numbers because they’re a huge operation. Remember that in 2015 their revenue failed to meet expectations and they slashed their 2016 estimates.  While the company touts a $1 Billion valuation there’s still a ton to prove and frankly I wouldn’t be an investor until I saw proof that they were more than just “big online.”  Here’s the full release from Axios:

With a blinding spotlight on Snap’s IPO, viral powerhouse BuzzFeed is quietly making preparations to go public in 2018, industry sources tell me. OMG!

The widely (and poorly) copied BuzzFeed, which began as a “great cat site” and now has foreign correspondents and a massive BuzzFeed Motion Pictures studio in L.A., mastered the art of sharable content and became a defining brand of the Internet age.

  • The pitch: BuzzFeed, with news and entertainment divisions, styles itself as a media-tech company with “the innovation obsessed culture and structure of a venture-backed tech company”: “We are best known for exploding watermelons, The Dress, Tasty, award-winning news investigations, quizzes, and lists.”
  • The strategy: BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti has turned down past offers from media companies, and has long planned to go public.
  • Peers: The Big Four of modern digital content companies are BuzzFeed, Vox, Vice and Group Nine Media (millennial-focused online publishers Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo and Seeker).
  • All have partnered with traditional media companies: NBC invested in BuzzFeed and Vox (and is an investor in Axios), Disney invested in Vice, and Discovery invested in Group Nine.
  • “Vice wants to sell,” a top industry source said.
  • What we’re watching: Quartz – an Atlantic Media property which, rumor has it, almost sold to Japan’s Nikkei a while back – also looks like it might be spiffing up for a possible buyer. Crain’s reported this week that the site, designed for the global business class, has turned a profit, earning $1 million in 2016 revenue of $30 million. There have been lots of stories about its financial performance and potential of late – and all seem aimed at attracting possible suitors.

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