How BuzzFeed Is Betting on Hollywood, Long-Form Writing to Grow

Fri Jan 4, 2013 6:58pm EST
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By Alexander C. Kaufman

LOS ANGELES ( - Last January, BuzzFeed, then an aggregator of memes and cat videos, secured a $15.5 million round of venture capital to beef up a craft that most traditional media was downsizing: journalism.

It hired dozens of reporters and editors, opened bureaus in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles and became a must-read for political junkies during the 2012 presidential election.

On Thursday, the company took another step.

It added adding a fourth round of capital investment - this time worth $19.3 million. And it plans to expand in two major ways: literary, long-form journalism like the kind practiced by New York magazine and the New Yorker, and - with two former Los Angeles Times staffers newly on board - its Hollywood coverage.

BuzzFeed's been on a roll. According to the privately held company's internal traffic numbers, the 8 million unique monthly visitors it drew in 2008 has swelled to 40 million, and revenue for 2012 may triple that of 2011, a spokeswoman for BuzzFeed told TheWrap.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, Tom Gara reported that some analysts place the company's valuation at $200 million and say that revenues may reach $40 million this year.

Most of BuzzFeed's traffic currently comes from its odd mix of news and eccentricity on the homepage. Friday morning, spotlighted stories ranged from J.J. Abrams screening his new "Star Trek" for a dying fan and Sen. Tammy Baldwin talking about breaking the glass ceiling to: "How to Murder Your Friend's Facebook Page" and "Here Are Some Elephants Eating Christmas Trees."

But there's no question things are changing.   Continued...