Buzzfeed Inc.’s founder and chief executive, Jonah Peretti, has agreed to acquire Verizon Media’s HuffPost in a stock deal back in November. Peretti was one of the three founders of Americans new aggregator back in 2005 when it was called “Huffington Post”, alongside Arianna Huffington and Kenneth Lerer. The two media outlets are joining together amid a digital traffic slump for both of them. Despite both news media companies rising quickly together in the past few years, they were struggling to attract ad dollars away from tech giants Facebook and Google, one of the predecessors to this merger.
Mergers are not uncommon in this industry with three separate acquisitions happening in the last year alone. It is a way for small yet popular media outlets to forge a way forward when competing with larger and more widely used news sources. Peretti has reported that he is expecting Buzzfeed to turn an operating profit this year for the first time in a while. He also stated that they are going to do a full work up on HuffPost’s staff before making any decisions about what they are going to do moving forward, whether that is laying off or hiring more employees. Peretti said, “This is not about nostalgia for me, its about the future, the brand and the audience,” clearly putting his intentions forward that he will not keep something onboard that is not working because of his connection to HuffPost.
Despite Verizon selling off part of their digital media sector, HuffPost, they turned around and have taken a minority stake in BuzzFeed, which begs the question, is it digital media they want to move away from or specifically HuffPost? The two media outlets have different readerships and Peretti said he wants them to remain that way in a recent interview. He also stated that he wants HuffPost to “have a lot of independence and autonomy… to determine its owns brand.” The only thing that will become unanimous is the operations and business side of the two entities. This has been a merger long in the making, BuzzFeed has been reaching out to Verizon on several occasions about a potential acquisition of HuffPost since 2018. The two media sources, now joined for the better, will soon become a force that will be able to rightfully compete for advertising space with Facebook and Google. As of now, Peretti has not ruled out potentially merging with yet another news outlet, reported the New York Times. So, more acquisitions could be on the horizon.