Commentary

'BuzzFeed' Said To Weigh Takeover Of Complex Networks

BuzzFeed is working on a deal to buy digital publisher Complex Networks, amid the effort to go public, by merging with a blank-check company named 890 Fifth Avenue Partners. A takeover of Complex would help BuzzFeed boost revenue by 30%, The Information reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The report is notable following BuzzFeed's acquisition of digital news publisher HuffPost from Verizon Media in February. The following month, BuzzFeed fired almost 50 people from the HuffPost newsroom, part of its effort to reverse a loss of $20 million in 2020.

At that time, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti had said the company was profitable — and didn't want to absorb two years of losses in turning around HuffPost.
BuzzFeed's revenue totaled $320 million last year, while Complex generated about $100 million. The combined company would seek to grow revenue to $519 million this year and $654 million in 2022, The Information reported.
BuzzFeed forecast that its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization -- a measure of its operating profit -- would double from $50 million this year $102 million in 2022. Complex projected the same earnings metric to surge from $2 million this year to $16 million in 2022, according to The Information.
Those revenue figures indicate a combined BuzzFeed and Complex would still be smaller than Vice Media, which also seeks to go public by merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Vice Media's revenue was $600 million last year, and it aims to reach $1 billion by the end of 2023, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

For the sake of the digital publishing industry, I hope BuzzFeed and Vice's revenue forecasts will prove to be accurate as media demand continues to recover from last year's steep decline during the onset of the pandemic.

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