Commentary

'BuzzFeed' Seeks New President Amid Operations Overhaul

BuzzFeedCEO Jonah Peretti said the digital publisher seeks to hire a new president amid a reorganization that aims to strengthen collaboration among its advertising and ecommerce businesses.

The company has been without a president since 2017, when Greg Coleman departed to become a senior adviser at the company.

Peretti announced the hiring plans this week in a memo to staffers that said the company is on track to be profitable for the second half of this year and all of 2020. That marks an optimistic turn for a company that cut 15% of its workforce as recently as January.

BuzzFeed is seeking an executive who can oversee the publisher’s efforts to diversify revenue beyond digital advertising. The company is among the digital publishers that have faced growing competition from Google, Facebook and Amazon, which are estimated to control 70% of the U.S. digital ad market.

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Peretti also announced the departure of Lee Brown, BuzzFeed’s Chief Revenue Officer, who accepted a job as vice president and global head of advertising at Spotify. The streaming media company mostly depends on paid subscriptions, but its ad-supported service boosted revenue by 34% to $165 million in the second quarter from a year earlier.

Brown is the latest high-profile executive to leave BuzzFeed this year.

Ashley McCollum left her role as general manager-vice president of Tasty to work as a consultant. In August, former CMO Ben Kaufman moved into an advisory role with plans to focus on expanding his Camp retail stores. Zé Frank, described as a key architect of BuzzFeed’s video business, stepped down in March.

Peretti said that starting next month, he will run business meetings with BuzzFeed's senior vice president of ad strategy and partnerships, Ken Blom, as part the ongoing effort to align its advertising and commerce businesses.

“Over the next few months, I’ll manage the team in the style of a smaller startup, with many people reporting to me, including sales leadership, international, commerce leadership, operations and research, with everyone stepping up to solve problems and getting things done,” Peretti said in the memo, which the company forwarded to Publishing Insider.

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