BuzzFeed, arguably one of the most viral sites in 2012 for its ability to shamelessly exploit the Internet’s interest in any topic and generate a truly impressive amount of hits in minimal time, is going to become even bigger in 2013. And we mean literally, thanks to a $20 million cash infusion that will mean new hires and expansion into new platforms.
In a statement released on Thursday, BuzzFeed founder and chief executive Jonah Peretti said that the company had “the senior management, board, and investors we need to build the next great media company,” going on to define that company as one that is “socially native, tech enabled [and possesses] massive scale.” Everyone at BuzzFeed, he said, is “focused on that big goal and raised this capital to move even faster.”
The latest round of funding comes from a group of investors that have previously put money into the company, including New Enterprise Associates, RRE Ventures, Hearst Interactive Media, SoftBank, and Lerer Ventures, with two new investors – Buddy Media co-founders Michael and Kass Lazerow – also putting forward capital this time around. In a statement accompanying the news, Patrick Kerins, a board member who led the round for New Enterprise, said that his company “think[s] BuzzFeed will be one of the great media companies of the next decade.”
This kind of attention is likely familiar to Peretti, who also co-founded the Huffington Post alongside Arianna Huffington, Andrew Breitbart, and Kenneth Lerer in 2005, the year before BuzzFeed launched. Although BuzzFeed has been around for almost seven years, it didn’t really gain a lot of attention until last year, when Peretti lured journalist Ben Smith from Politico.com over to become the site’s Editor-in-Chief. Smith was the first in a series of high-profile hires (also including LA Times editors Richard Rushfield and Kate Aurhtur, NBC News communications co-ordinator Ashley McCollum and Rolling Stone journalists Doree Shafrir and Michael Hastings) to raise the profile of the site.
Oft-criticized for juggling journalistic scoops, viral videos, and listicles, Peretti has defended BuzzFeed’s occasional schizophrenia as the result of it being in tune with the Web as most people use it. “As the world has religned from being about portals and then search and now social, how do you build a company for a social world?” he told New York Times journalist David Carr last year. “A big part of that is scoops and exclusives and original content, and it’s also about cute kittens in an entertaining cultural context.”
The new round of funding will be used, in part, to continue that push to make the site reflect the way people use the Internet, with reports suggesting that the company plans to reinforce its presence on mobile phones and add more of an international presence to its content.
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