BuzzFeed Will Be “Leaning Into” AI and Creators After Shuttering News Division
BuzzFeed will be relying on its creators and AI to propel the site forward, after shutting down BuzzFeed News and laying off 15 percent of its workforce.
In the first earnings report since the layoffs were announced, CEO Jonah Peretti said the layoffs and changes made to the company — which included reducing budgets, real estate, open roles, and cutting down on other expenses — had put the firm on the right path.
“We have reached an inflection point in digital media. Over the last few months, we have made significant strategic and organizational changes to position the business for long-term growth. Adaptation is in our DNA. By leaning into Creators and AI, I believe we can unlock new opportunities across our portfolio of trusted brands — including Tasty, First we Feast, Complex, HuffPost, and BuzzFeed,” Peretti said in the earnings release.
“Broadly speaking, I believe that generative AI will begin to replace the majority of static content. Audiences will begin to expect all content to be personalized, interactive and dynamic with embedded intelligence formats that were developed before the AI revolution. And many other formats and conventions of the media industry will need to be updated and adapted or begin to feel stale and outdated,” he continued on the earnings call.
In January, Peretti said that BuzzFeed would begin to embrace more “AI inspired content,” to become a “part of our core business” starting in March. That has included new AI-formats, such as Infinity Quizzes and Chatbot Games. Time spent on AI-based quizzes has increased by more than 40 percent compared to legacy quizzes, Peretti said Tuesday.
The company is “rapidly prototyping” new generative AI quizzes and chatbots that “will scale in the coming months.”
Buzzfeed will also be “rapidly expanding” its Creator program, which brings together influencers and advertisers with the company brand.
“The next few years will be defined by creators partnering with the best media brands for credibility and community,” Peretti said on the earnings call.
The financials for the three months ended March 31 show what the company had been dealing with. BuzzFeed reported first-quarter revenues of $67.2 million, down 27 percent year-over-year, with advertising revenue down 30 percent and content revenue down 33 percent. Commerce and other revenues grew six percent to $11.3 million.
The company reported a net loss of $36.3 million, less than its net loss of $44.6 million in the first quarter of 2022. However, its adjusted EBITDA loss was $20.2 million, compared to an adjusted EBITDA loss of $16.8 million a year ago.
Time spent remained relatively flat, with a 3 percent decrease for the quarter to 109 million hours.
The shuttering of BuzzFeed News came as Peretti said he had chosen to “over invest” in the segment, but found that “big platforms wouldn’t provide the distribution or financial support required to support premium, free journalism purpose-built for social media.”
For the second quarter, BuzzFeed said it expects revenues in the range of $76 million to $81 million and adjusted EBITDA from $0 to $4 million.
The company did not take any questions from analysts on the earnings call.
SOURE: Hollywood Reporter