BuzzFeed is shuttering its journalism arm BuzzFeed News and laying off 15 percent of staff, according to a company email sent today (April 20) and obtained by the New York Times. The news and entertainment site is also losing two of its C-suite executives and shuffling the responsibilities of others.
Edgar Hernandez, chief revenue officer, and Christian Baesler, chief operating officer, are exiting the company, CEO Jonah Peretti said in the email, without elaborating on their reasons for leaving.
Marcela Martin, who BuzzFeed hired last year as president, will begin overseeing revenue today. She formerly worked as the chief financial officer of Squarespace. Andrew Guendjoian, former senior vice president of client partnerships, is the new head of sales. He joined the company 11 years ago as a sales director. BuzzFeed’s international sales division is also moving under Rich Reid, who leads BuzzFeed’s content and studio operations.
Peretti and the executive team could have managed the company better as it faced recent challenges, including the economic downturn, slowed stock market and declining advertising market, the CEO said in the statement. BuzzFeed’s top executives have big challenges ahead. The changes come on the heels of a 12 percent staff cut impacting 180 people, and executives must regain the trust of the remaining employees. Amid a continued declining market, they must also convince shareholders the company is worth their investments. Its stock fell 16 percent to $0.76 per share following the layoff announcement today and is trading 90 percent lower than the price BuzzFeed went public at in 2021.
BuzzFeed’s new business strategy
The business team is planning on writing quicker and more effective sales pitches, working more with creators and adding artificial intelligence (AI) to “every aspect” of the sales process, Peretti said in the note. BuzzFeed is increasingly relying on AI in its business practices, and it announced in January the company will use ChatGPT in its quizzes and other articles to personalize content.
BuzzFeed.com and HuffPost, a politics and entertainment site that BuzzFeed owns, will open an undisclosed number of roles to former BuzzFeed News employees. HuffPost will become the company’s main news platform.
“It might not feel this way today, but I am confident the future of digital media is ours for the taking,” Peretti said.
Hernandez and Baesler, the exiting C-suite executives, will remain with the company through the end of May and April, respectively, to aid in the transition.