Six months ago, we were reporting on Buzzfeed’s record-breaking profits, as the native advertising/viral content/news site continued relentlessly on its seemingly unstoppable upward trajectory. According to VentureBeat, rumor has it that it’s now considering a fifth funding round which just might be as high as $200 million. You don’t need to be a veteran business development manager to appreciate that when your company inspires that kind of confidence amongst investors, it’s turned into pure gold.
A little turbulence
The New York startup’s last funding round was back in January 2013, when it raised a comparatively modest $20 million, bringing its total investment at the time to $46.3 million. But savvy business development managers who’ve been following its recent progress carefully will know that it’s maybe oversimplifying things to describe Buzzfeed’s progress simply in terms of plain sailing.
Things were looking fabulous back in November last year, when its forays into long-form journalism and its list posts reached an audience of over 130 million unique visitors. Fast-forward to this month, though, and it’s clear that the startup has taken a couple of hefty horse kicks recently. For one thing, when it stopped producing so many interactive quizzes – one of its most popular social media offerings – its Facebook traffic tanked, plummeting from 13 million shares in April to 5.9 million in May (a 55 percent fall on its total for March). At about the same time, its long-standing President and Chief Operating Officer, Jon Steinberg, announced he was stepping down to join British news and entertainment site, The Daily Mail.
What’s next for Buzzfeed?
That said, many companies in Adland survive occasional quakes like this – people move on and some strategies don’t work very well, neither of which are irrecoverable setbacks. Buzzfeed has otherwise been moving very much in the right direction. In March this year, CEO Jonah Peretti announced international expansion plans, dropping the names Tokyo, Mumbai and Mexico City in his blog post for Medium.com.
As for the rumored $200 million funding round, it’s not clear at this stage how advanced the talks have become; a Buzzfeed spokesman would only say, “We don’t comment on rumors and speculation.”
As the perspicuous business development manager will note, this might not amount to a confirmation, but neither is it a denial.
Watch this space.