BuzzFeed announced it is going public via SPAC. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
BuzzFeed, the internet media startup famous for publishing both interactive listicles and quizzes and investigative reporting alike, will become publicly traded on Monday under the ticker symbol “BZFD,” after its shareholders approved a merger with SPAC 890 Fifth Avenue Partners on Thursday.
In an SEC filing, BuzzFeed noted that it is expected to raise at least $166.2 million with $150 million from convertible debt financing and $16.2 million from investor cash, drastically less than its previously projected $288 million.
Since its genesis in November 2006, the company has gone through some drastic changes. It acquired companies including HuffPost in November 2020 and Complex Networks earlier this year. BuzzFeed has also ramped up its news coverage significantly over the past few years, deviating from its original lifestyle and social content and winning its first Pulitzer Prize in June 2021.
Despite these efforts, the company has been accused by members of BuzzFeed News' union of refusing to provide fair and equitable salaries. As a result, the union organized a walkout ahead of the shareholder vote on Thursday. A BuzzFeed representative told Axios that there will be a bargaining session on these issues next Thursday.
The Org explores the executive team of BuzzFeed and looks into the careers of the people that are currently calling the shots at the soon-to-be-publicly-listed media company.
Jonah Peretti first launched BuzzFeed as an experimental platform that would track how viral content was shared, but the company wasn’t his first media experiment. During his time as a master’s student at MIT Media Lab, Peretti spent a lot of time studying how information spread across the internet. Once, when he was procrastinating, he decided to play around with words on Nike’s customizable shoes. After successfully placing an order with the word ‘sweatshop’ printed on one of the shoes, he received an email saying his order was rejected due to “inappropriate slang.” This was the start of a series of back and forth emails that he eventually shared with millions of people. It would be Peretti’s first — but certainly not last — brush with creating viral content.
This email was also how Peretti met Ken Lerer and Arianna Huffington, with whom he founded Huffington Post. Today, Peretti has led BuzzFeed to become a community of more than 1,500 employees, including reporters, producers and data engineers.
Overseeing the company’s publishing platforms and technology is Publisher Dao Nguyen. An experienced product manager, Nguyen has led product teams at multiple media companies. After graduating from Harvard with a BA in Applied Math and Computer Science, Nguyen became a consultant at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). She then left to become an Executive Producer at Concrete Media, an internet consulting company, before moving to France to work for Le Monde Interactif, where she eventually became CEO. Before joining Buzzfeed in 2012, Nguyen was the Director of Product Management at FINS.com, a Dow Jones Venture.
Managing all public relations and communications is CCO Carole Robinson. Robinson joined BuzzFeed in September 2016, after spending most of her career working elsewhere in the media space. She previously served as a Communications Consultant at First Look Media and has spent more than three years as EVP of Corporate Marketing and Communications at Viacom. Prior to that, she was the EVP of Communications and Chief of Staff for MTV. Robinson is a graduate of Colgate University.
Preparing BuzzFeed for its IPO and responsible for diversifying its revenue is Felicia DellaFortuna. DellaFortuna joined the company in 2015 as the Senior Director of Finance, and has climbed to CFO over her six years with the company. She previously served as the Senior Director of Finance at marketing and technology company Viant Inc. DellaFortuna started her career in accounting firm, Enerst and Young in Transaction Advisory Services. She has a BS in Accounting from Lehigh University and is a certified CPA.
A seasoned executive in media law, Rhonda Powell is BuzzFeed’s Chief Legal Officer. Joining the company in 2018, Powell was previously the SVP of Business and Legal Affairs at online media firm Complex Networks. Before that, she spent over a decade working for Scripps Networks Interactive, where she most recently held the title of VP of Business and Legal Affairs. She also has experience working as Senior Counsel for Reuters. Powell is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Michigan Law School.
CTO Peter Wang oversees all engineering, data and design teams at BuzzFeed. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University with a bachelor’s degree in Science, Wang joined investment banking firm BNY Mellon’s Software Residency Program; he later worked at multiple investment banking companies while simultaneously running his own online admissions platform, Mozar Group, from 2002 to 2012. After his experience building his own company, Wang became an avid investor and advisor for startups, including Visually, Matter and Sayspring, just to name a few. Wang joined BuzzFeed in 2020.
BuzzFeed’s news sector has truly flourished over the past few years, and that would not have been possible without a talented editorial team. Leading BuzzFeed News is Editor in Chief Mark Schoofs. A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Schoofs has a 30-year-long career reporting for prominent publications, including the Wall Street Journal, where he covered the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and ProPublica, where he oversaw a team of investigative journalists. At BuzzFeed News, Schoofs pioneered the investigative unit. The talented journalist started his career at The Windy Times, a Chicago publication that covered LGBTQ news.
Katie Sitter is Buzzfeed’s Chief People Officer. An experienced talent management executive, Sitter had spent over a decade working for accounting giant Deloitte. Where she most recently served as the National Talent Leader. Prior to joining BuzzFeed in 2019, Sitter was the Vice President of Global Human Resources at gaming and entertainment company Activision.
If you would like to learn more about BuzzFeed’s employees, you can explore them here on The Org’s public database.