“Having some bigger companies that actually care about the quality of the content feels like something that’s very valuable,” he said at the time.
Meanwhile, BuzzFeed has been adding new business lines, offering a cookware line at Walmart and, crucially, placing banner ads across its website. At the outset, Mr. Peretti said he didn’t want banner ads, because they significantly slowed down the site. In their place he pushed for native ads — posts that look like editorial content but are created in cooperation with marketers.
Native advertising slowed considerably in 2017, however. Coupled with changes at Facebook, the rate of revenue growth declined. The addition of banner ads significantly added to BuzzFeed’s coffers last year, the people said.
In his note to the staff, Mr. Peretti said he took the layoffs to heart.
“On a personal note,” he wrote, “I’ve never thought about my job as ‘just business.’ I care about the people at BuzzFeed more than anything other than my family. This will be a tough week for all of us and I realize it will be much worse for the people losing their jobs. To them, I want to say thank you, I’m sorry our work together is ending this way, and I hope we get to work together again in the future. Our loss will be to the benefit of other organizations where I know you will go on to make formidable contributions.”
BuzzFeed has had staff reductions in the past. In 2017, it cut 100 of its 1,600-employee work force after it failed to meet revenue targets that year.
As BuzzFeed looks to cut down its staff once again, print publishers have also struggled. Gannett, the owner of USA Today and The Detroit Free Press, has cut its work force sharply over the past few years. A company overview from the end of 2015 showed 19,600 employees. By the end of 2017, the figure was down to 15,300. On Wednesday, there were more cuts at Gannett newspapers across the country, including The Indianapolis Star and The Record in New Jersey. The company is slimming down in an effort to attract a buyer, and a company controlled by the New York hedge fund Alden Global Capital — which itself has made drastic cuts at newspapers in its stable, including The Denver Post — has expressed interest.