When BuzzFeed announced the launch of its new business vertical, many people skeptically wondered how a site that is known for its animal listicles would carve out space in the relatively straitlaced world of business reporting.
“People on Wall Street like to laugh, they have humor,” Peter Lauria, editor of Business Buzz, told Off the Record. “So I think being able to mix serious scoops, smart analysis and fun stuff together is a fun recipe that we have the ability to do that no one else does.”
True to form, two of their inaugural stories last week had animal themes: the site launched with a story called “14 CEOs And Their Animal Doppelgängers” and followed that two days later with a post titled “The Life-
cycle Of A Goldman Sachs Transaction Is Exactly Like The Mating Embrace Of Frogs,” which compared a chart explaining the bank’s transaction-review process to amphibian sexual habits.
“It’s been fantastic to see Peter, his great team and their exclusive reporting right in the middle of the business conversation from Day 1,” said BuzzFeed editor in chief Ben Smith. “We are also very proud of our dead-on CEO animal doppelgängers.”
Overall, a big part of the aim of the new business vertical is to engage BuzzFeed’s core audience of 18- to 25-year-olds. To that end, Mr. Lauria said that he planned the section so that he and his team of reporters will cover the corporate angle of media and entertainment, specialty retail “important to the BuzzFeed audience” (such as The Gap, Urban Outfitters and, one imagines, American Apparel), consumer technology and Wall Street—but with a sexy angle.
“I remember that part of my life as moving in with my girlfriend, investing in 401ks, maybe looking to buy a house, so those things are becoming more prominent in their lives,” Mr. Lauria said about his time in the BuzzFeed demo. “We don’t need every Wall Street Journal reader or every BuzzFeed reader, but if we can get portions of those two audiences to overlap on a Venn diagram on a regular basis, then I think we have the basis of something really good.”
So far, in addition to animal comparisons, posts include a piece on the experience of calling the cable company as told through pop-culture gifs, a selection of 14 comics about post-collegiate job hunting, and a scoop about the Abercrombie and Fitch CEO’s partner.
We asked Mr. Lauria whom he sees as his major competitors.
“To me, that’s an old-media question. That’s thinking about what platforms compete with editors,” Mr. Lauria told OTR. “In 2013, my competitor is everyone out there on Twitter, because what we want is for people to talk about and look at our work. I don’t care where you go to look at it, but we want to be in that conversation, dominating that conversation.”
And where else can you find stock tips from Grumpy Cat?