BuzzFeed is Using Investment to Test a Host of New Features

BuzzFeed, which currently draws more than 150 million average monthly viewers, wants to become known for more than its numbered lists popular with Web surfers. To achieve this goal, the startup just closed a $50 million investment from Silicon Valley VC firm Andreessen Horowitz. The investment will be used to develop new content sections for the site, create an in-house incubator for new technologies, and put more resources toward its LA-based video arm, BuzzFeed Motion Pictures.

“BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, which is led by Ze Frank, a Web video pioneer, aims to produce new videos — from six-second clips made for social media to more traditional 22-minute shows — at a rapid-fire pace,” reports The New York Times.

“Initially, his team will focus on independent distribution, hosting video content on, YouTube or other digital platforms. But BuzzFeed Motion Pictures could also look to produce feature-length films or shows, working in conjunction with traditional Hollywood studios.”


New York-based BuzzFeed launched in 2006 “as a kind of laboratory for viral content — the kinds of highly shareable lists, videos and memes that pepper social media sites,” notes the article. “But in recent years, the company has added more traditional content, building a track record for delivering breaking news and deeply reported articles, and it has tried to marry its two halves in one site.”

According to Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed’s co-founder and chief exec, the company will use the new cash infusion to develop and test out a collection of new features.

BuzzFeed has been highly successful at distributing its content through mobile devices and social sites. In fact, social media now accounts for 75 percent of the site’s referral traffic, with Pinterest driving more traffic than Twitter.

However, BuzzFeed is facing the same dilemma as other general interest sites: rates for online advertising continue to fall. Yet most of BuzzFeed’s revenue comes from BuzzFeed Creative, which produces custom video and list-style advertising content for brands.

The company’s recent investment will look for ways to increase revenue. In addition to new content and features, BuzzFeed Distributed plans to experiment with other platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat or Tumblr.

“The company also plans a fast expansion into international markets, already a major driver of the site’s new-user growth, with plans to open offices in Japan, Germany, Mexico and India this year,” explains NYT.

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