If you haven’t read a listicle or watched a video on the viral sensation that is BuzzFeed, then there’s a good chance you will in the near future. The company, bent on providing both news and entertainment, has grown to reach an estimated 200m individual visitors per month and this number just keeps rising. Through its seemingly simple posts, the company is run on data-driven findings of what is sharable and what is considered not. BuzzFeed’s initial growth came from quicker, easily digestible posts that earned the company a reputation for being more entertainment rather than breaking news. BuzzFeed has recently focused on including more long-form articles and expanding BuzzFeed News, both of which are a slight nod to the company’s original first post, a list of links about waterboarding (and to most readers’ surprise, not kittens).
The Start of Something New
In 2001, BuzzFeed’s founder Jonah Peretti exchanged emails with a Nike customer service representative about Peretti’s sneaker order, which contained the request for the word “sweatshop” on the side of the sneaker. The chain of emails that ensued was forwarded by Peretti to close friends out of amusement, and once those friends passed the email along to others, Peretti got his first sense of creating something viral. He took on the challenge of doing this again, but with purpose. With Kenneth Lerer and Arianna Huffington, the three created The Huffington Post in 2005, a site that has become a news and information juggernaut in the social-media vertical. Peretti started BuzzFeed in 2006 as more of a lab to investigate how content could be social, rather than traditional. The site was built vertically, unique with its own CMS, data science, and more, in an attempt to control as much ownership as possible.
The Birth of a Listicle
The idea of numbering things and putting them in order wasn’t a novel idea, but the thought of making an entire article out of it, and then doing this again and again, was. Posts include memes, often originals, and allow readers to “react” with a sticker saying “OMG”, “LOL”, “<3” and so on, giving the company immediate reader feedback. BuzzFeed’s innovative quick-read posts brought about the emergence of native advertising, which allowed for advertisers to be incorporated into content rather than placed in banner ads around the site.
Bringing in Movies
Bent on social content sharing, BuzzFeed has moved from just producing articles to incorporating videos, brought about after the acquisition of Ze Frank and his company in 2012. Within the first two years, BuzzFeed Motion Pictures grew more rapidly than anything else had within the company. The original videos are streamed through BuzzFeed’s YouTube page and are often shared via Facebook, accumulating nearly 2.2 billion monthly views and over 40 million subscribers and followers. Unlike its competitors, the videos primarily live on outside platforms rather than BuzzFeed, which allow for native advertising to work even more in the company’s favor.
111 E 18TH ST 13TH FL
New York, NY 10003-2107
Phone: 1 (212) 431-7464
Founder & CEO: Jonah Peretti
Executive Chairman: Ken Lerer
President: Greg Coleman
2015 Employees (All Locations): 1,200