BuzzFeed is sizing down HuffPost just weeks after acquiring it.

BuzzFeed acquired HuffPost in November 2020, a deal that was made official in February. Just weeks later, the company announced layoffs of 47 staffers and the shuttering of HuffPost Canada later this month. Even though BuzzFeed is hiring a new editor-in-chief for HuffPost, it's clear the downsizing isn't just affecting its newly acquired media property, but also the mothership. 

Meanwhile, HuffPost had a rough 2020, according to BuzzFeed’s chief executive, Jonah Peretti. During the company meeting announcing the layoffs, Peretti said that HuffPost had lost $20 million in 2020 and was on track to lose the same amount this year.

Our data shows that hiring at Buzzfeed has remained relatively stagnant since early 2019 (the sudden drop in late December 2019 is a byproduct of LinkedIn removing ghost profiles). Their employee count has held steady at 1,750 in recent months, after a slow drop from 1,850 that began at the outset of the pandemic.

The cutbacks are likely coming due to BuzzFeed's plateauing as a media property. This chart shows that after years of growth and times when everything seemed like a BuzzFeed story, the site has decreased in visibility, perhaps leading to hard internal decisions about where to allocate resources and staffing... etc..

Buzzfeed’s Twitter followers also reached a plateau as of early 2018. Currently, the company has 6.44 million followers after a slight drop from its height of 6.59 million in April 2020. The first time Buzzfeed reached 6.44 million followers was February 24, 2018 — it’s remained in the ballpark ever since.

These aren’t the first layoffs for Buzzfeed — in fact, the company has had much larger rounds of layoffs in recent years. In 2017, the company laid off 100 of its employees, then laid off 200 more in May 2019. When the pandemic hit, the company decided on a sliding scale of pay cuts as opposed to layoffs: the lowest income bracket would see a 5% reduction in pay, and the highest would see 25%.

In a period of media proliferation, there's also consolidation. It may be that BuzzFeed — 15 years after its founding, and now with the acquisition of HuffPost, a BuzzFeed progenitor — is becoming the thing it was built as a reaction and rejoinder to: a legacy media brand.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.

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