BuzzFeed, the Internet's top destination for cats, quizzes and news, just landed a $200 million equity investment from media giant NBCUniversal, but founder and CEO Jonah Peretti says he won't let go of "editorial and creative independence."
The deal, first reported last week by Re/code, was one-half of a larger move by Comcast's NBCUniversal unit, which also bought a $200 million chunk of Vox Media last week.
Unlike Peretti's first home, the Huffington Post, which was acquired by AOL in 2011, BuzzFeed has thus far avoided being gobbled up by a larger company. The site, founded in 2006, appears interested in charting its own course and retaining its strategic edge rather than simply cashing in and growing fat from a lucrative buyout. [BuzzFeed officials did not take questions on the deal Tuesday.]
"[T]he investment from NBCU and our rapidly growing revenue assures our financial independence, allowing us to grow and invest without pressure to chase short-term revenue or rush an IPO," Peretti said in a letter to both readers and staff Tuesday.
The last big cash injection came last year in a $50 million bundle from venture capitalist firm Andreessen Horowitz, which helped launch BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, the site's Los Angeles video division. Peretti's letter Tuesday echoed a statement he made after that deal.
“As we grow, how can we maintain a culture that can still be entrepreneurial?” Peretti asked Mike Isaac of the New York Times. “What if a Hollywood studio or a news organization was run like a startup?”
Kenneth Lerer, BuzzFeed’s executive chairman, said in a news release that NBCUniversal will work with the digital media startup on TV shows, movies, coverage of the Olympics, as well as BuzzFeed's signature branded content.
Gawker's Keenan Trotter reported last week that BuzzFeed brought in revenue of $46.2 million in the first six months of 2014, posting a net profit of $2.7 million. The site invested $10.45 million into its editorial operation.
Last week, Peretti also threw cold water on the idea of a unionization effort at BuzzFeed, even as employees at fellow media companies Vice, Gawker and Salon successfully organize.
"I think that actually wouldn’t be very good for employees at BuzzFeed -- particularly people who are writers and reporters -- because the comps for writers and reporters are much less favorable than comps for startup companies and tech companies," he said. "In general, I don’t think it’s the right idea for us."