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BuzzFeed to lay off up to 15 percent of its staff

BuzzFeed announced it would be cutting 15 percent of its workforce, or around 200 employees.
Image: Digital Media Company BuzzFeed's New York Headquarters
Members of the BuzzFeed News team work at their desks at BuzzFeed headquarters, in New York on December 11, 2018.Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

BuzzFeed, a website that runs serious investigative journalism alongside personality quizzes and fast-paced cooking videos, told its staff Wednesday it would lay off 15 percent of its staff, or around 200 people.

BuzzFeed said its layoffs were part of an effort to shift the company’s business model toward profitability.

“Revenue growth by itself isn’t enough to be successful in the long run,” said co-founder and chief executive Jonah Peretti in a memo to the staff. Peretti said the business grew by double digits. The New York Times reported that the company's revenue was $300 million in 2018.

BuzzFeed was once known as an internet pioneer that found new ways to work with marketers by creating content known as “native advertising,” set alongside light shareable content aimed at young readers. It made BuzzFeed a trendsetting model for others.

NBCUniversal (which owns NBC News) has a $400 million investment in BuzzFeed, which is also backed by internet entrepreneur Kenneth Lerer. In 2016, the site had a valuation of $1.7 billion.

The news came on a trying day for staff at media companies.

Verizon Media Group, which owns outlets such as Yahoo News and HuffPost, confirmed it was laying off up to 800 people, while Gannett, which owns USA Today and a host of local newspapers, also reduced its staff on Wednesday.

Separately, Condé Nast said it would put up a paywall around all of its titles by the end of the year to make-up for lost print advertising.